Typical to his nature of always thinking larger than life, at the 68th International Astronautical Congress 2017 in Adelaide, Australia, Elon Musk demonstrated SpaceX’s proposal of using a BFR to travel on the Earth itself.
A BFR (big fucking rocket, if you hadn’t already guessed), flying at a max speed of 18,000 mph, could take passengers between any two points on Earth in less than an hour. Most long-distance journeys that take over a day even in this age, would take around 30-40 minutes. To top it all off, according to Musk, people would not have to sell their kidneys to make these journeys. The cost would be "about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft."
At the event, Musk’s main agenda was, of course, to unveil their revised plans for traveling to the Moon and Mars. But it was obviously overshadowed by the man’s stellar conclusion for using that same interplanetary rocket system for long-distance travel on Earth.
In SpaceX’s video that illustrates the idea, passengers take a large boat from a dock in New York City to a floating launch pad out in the water. There, they board the same rocket that Musk wants to use to send humans to Mars by 2024. But instead of heading off to another planet once they leave the Earth’s atmosphere, the ship separates and breaks off towards another city — Shanghai.
Just 39 minutes and some 7,000 miles later, the ship re-enters the atmosphere and touches down on another floating pad, much like the way SpaceX lands its Falcon 9 rockets at sea. Other routes proposed in the video include Hong Kong to Singapore in 22 minutes, London to Dubai or New York in 29 minutes, and Los Angeles to Toronto in 24 minutes.
The demonstration was more of a whimsical addition to Musk’s speech, and naturally, he didn’t go into too many technical details regarding the idea. Based on his preceding speech regarding sending people to Mars by 2024, the rocket’s capacity is expected to accommodate from 80-200 people per trip.
There are, of course, other factors involved as well such as the physical conditions that a person’s body would be going through during the trip and if it would be worth the effort to take so much trouble for saving a few hours.
Regardless, if emulated in reality, this will be the fastest means of transportation ever created by man for intra-Earth travel and could see revolutionary applications in case of sectors like first aid, relief, and disaster management.