London to New York in 29 Minutes!

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Elon Musk, the visionary co-founder of PayPal, appears to have reached the periphery of imaginative realm, when he unveiled a set of his new plans this week, which most of mere mortals may find unthinkable.

He said that he would colonize the Mars, the Red Planet, by 2024 while making the Moon as a transit point during the long voyage. That, however, did not stop him from planning something great for the Blue Planet.

Mr Musk plans to use intercontinental rockets to transport passengers from continent to continent within half an hour.

SpaceX, the company owned by Mr Musk, unveiled the spacecraft that could be used on the missions. BFR, the spacecraft that SpaceX is going to use for earthly travels, could travel at 11,000 km/hour while drastically reducing the time of flight.

Mr Musk did not seem to have resorted to laborious brainstorming sessions in order to come up with the name for the spacecraft, while breaking with typical, corporate tradition; BFR simply stands for Big Fuc**** Rocket.  surprise
At present, most modern aircrafts can fly at 926 km/hour in ideal atmospheric conditions. So, the BFRs are ten times as fast as modern passenger jets are and they could easily reduce the flight duration; in this context, Mr Musk’s calculation does not sound far-fetched; nor does it seem unrealistic, when you took into accounts the feats achieved by human beings over the centuries, some of which were laughed at during the initial stages.

With some simple calculations, we can easily understand why people are excited about the time sensation. At the estimated speed of 11,000 km/hour, the BFR spacecraft can go around the Earth in less than 4 hours, while covering the entire distance of the circumference – nearly 40,000 km.

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Based on this speed, I made the following table that shows the estimated time intervals of the BFR spacecraft, flying between major cities in the world:

Route Time in Minutes
New York – London 29
New York – Los Angeles 25
New York – Tokyo 37
London – Hong Kong 34
London – Sydney 51
London – Dubai 29

With the space for 100 passengers inside, the cost of the flight for each on a BFR would be less than that of an economy fare, according to SpaceX.

Mr Musk plans to build launch pads at sea near all major cities. Passengers are then taken to them by boat in order to board the rockets that stand vertically on the launch pads. The rockets, along with the passengers, will move upwards to align itself on to a pre-calculated orbit. Once in orbit, as the rocket is closer to the intended city, the spacecraft would detach itself from the booster before landing on the corresponding, floating launch pad near the city – vertically.

The following video illustrates Mr Musk’s grand plan:

Of course, Mr Musk has critics: not only do they question the feasibility of the plan, but also lose no time in frowning upon the idea, while highlighting endless hypothetical issues.

In our history, most, if not all, novel ideas were greeted with the same scepticism, encapsulated in subtle ridicule.

When the first steam powered steam ship, for instance, to sail between England and America was announced, a well-known English aristocrat, hailing from scientific background, ridiculed the idea citing that the weight of the coal for such a mission would exceed that of the ship – in a pamphlet.

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In the end, however, the ship managed to make the trip while defying all odds and a section of the ship was allocated for some bundles of the same pamphlet!

Mr Musk may be drawing inspiration from true tales of this kind, as he shows no desire to take on his critics, while sticking to his guns – and having lots of guts to do so.

The highly ambitious project by Mr Musk and his team at SpaceX may have made Jules Verne, the Father of Science Fiction, proud in spirit realm, as the trip that he envisioned to have taken 80 days, a native of South Africa is planning to achieve in less than 4 hours.

– Asian Tribune –

London to New York in 29 Minutes!

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