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SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell says city-to-city rocket travel will be ready 'within a decade'

By Polycount · 29 replies
Apr 12, 2018
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  1. While NASA's space plans may involve innovative new ways of exploring Mars, SpaceX's ultimate goal has always been the colonization of the red planet. According to Recode, company COO and President Gwynne Shotwell recently reaffirmed SpaceX's commitment to making Earth-to-Mars travel a reality.

    Interestingly, though, it sounds like SpaceX plans to use rocket travel for more than just interplanetary transportation. The company may offer customers the ability to use rockets to fly between major Earth-bound cities in under an hour.

    Shotwell believes the technology necessary to make this sort of travel a reality will be ready "within a decade" - an ambitious plan but one SpaceX seems confident in. "It's definitely going to happen," Shotwell said on stage at TED. SpaceX hopes Mars travel technology will be ready within the same time frame.

    SpaceX believes the high operational costs will be offset by revenue earned from a rocket operating a given route "a dozen or so" times a day.

    You could be forgiven for thinking city-to-city rocket travel would be too expensive to achieve. However, SpaceX believes the high operational costs will be offset by revenue earned from a rocket operating a given route "a dozen or so" times a day. For reference, as Recode notes, an ordinary long-distance plane only performs one flight per day on average.

    "I'm personally invested in this one," Shotwell said. "because I travel a lot, and I do not love to travel." Time will tell if the COO and the rest of her company can make their goals a reality.

    Permalink to story.

  2. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,979   +2,285

    Be ready in a decade. Here we go. Maybe, maybe not. Most "scientists" when they say things like this, really mean "we have no clue."

    So, Mars, and intercity rocket travel, what else? Asteroid mining, bottling hydrogen from the Sun?

    It will be interesting to see if this happens, but as I see it, it might just be more distraction from the upcoming May, 2018 Tesla earnings report - which, again, is expected to be seriously negative.
  3. Polycount

    Polycount TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,760   +387

    Asteroid mining and hydrogen bottling both sound pretty good to me.
    Draconian, H3llion and wiyosaya like this.
  4. koblongata

    koblongata TS Addict Posts: 202   +59

    Somehow I believe her, really, with all the companies now capable of launching low orbit spaceships today, it's really plausible it could happen commercially in 10 years, maybe even earlier, for the competition is already heated up.
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,979   +2,285

    Asteroid mining would be cool, but few probably want to tackle it at the moment because it would almost certainly be more expensive than similarly mined materials on Earth.

    However, bottling hydrogen from the sun, now that would be cool! ;)
    Doing it and doing it economically are two different things. To me, Musk and his companies seem to be throwing things out there and hoping something sticks to the wall. ;)
    Polycount likes this.
  6. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,124   +1,617

    I'm really not sure how viable this would be considering 1) the current ability to communicate anywhere/anytime, and 2) the extent of airline travel already in existence and proposed for the future (supersonic flight).

    If they did try this, your choices would be either take the 7-hour flight from New York to London while relaxing, reading a book and having a couple of cocktails. Or strap yourself into a rocket for a two-hour ride that starts with a bone-rattling launch and ends with a hang-on-to-your-seat re-entry.

    Except for possibly the thrill factor and bragging rights, I don't see it as much of a benefit over current travel.
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,388   +5,016

    There is an end to how much of the planet we can burn. This seems awfully inefficient to me. Just setup a conference line and be done with it. Anything else can wait for more efficient means of travel.
    JaredTheDragon, wiyosaya and RobStow like this.
  8. RobStow

    RobStow TS Enthusiast Posts: 60   +22

    Greenhouse gases and other pollution from airliners is bad enough - we don't need inter-city rockets that will burn several orders of magnitude more fuel per passenger-mile.
    JaredTheDragon and wiyosaya like this.
  9. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,062   +1,187

    Let's see...3 hours to get to the jetport...2 hours to get thru security...boarding, move to gantry, clearance, ignition - perhaps another hour...flight time to coast about 37 minutes..then landing...uh, yes, um, landing, ha, never really thought about that....um.
  10. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 875   +372

    I think people carrying rocket travel is stupid, we have efficient supersonic aircraft coming online here in 5-10 years. But cargo might find a market, for valuable items that atm take 12-15 hours to cross the planet, now you can do it in an hour. Wouldn't have the restrictions on acceleration and G forces that manned flight would have, rockets could be simpler and so on. I still think it will be plane like though, some X-37/x-38 just larger and with it's own power plants.
    Godel and wiyosaya like this.
  11. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,979   +2,285

    A sensible thinker surfaces!
  12. dirtyferret

    dirtyferret TS Evangelist Posts: 510   +525

    I'm still waiting for the flying cars that were supposed to come to us in the 60's....
  13. Jeff Re

    Jeff Re TS Addict Posts: 151   +115

    I've been waiting 40 years for my flying car so I'm not holding my breath. That said, the recent video of the two SpaceX rockets landing side by side is one of the most awe-inspiring things I have ever seen.
    RobStow and Godel like this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,720   +808

    Sure... We'll also have electric cars with batteries that can be fully charged in 30 seconds!

    I'll believe it when I see it.
    JaredTheDragon and wiyosaya like this.
  15. ForgottenLegion

    ForgottenLegion TS Guru Posts: 413   +416

    No chance.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  16. I might venture a flight after they have successfully launched like 100,000 rockets without ONE blowing up.
  17. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,389   +3,778

    And I suppose we are now going to start calling her "Buxom Rogers"? Look it up kids, it's an old pun, but still a good one! Next edition we'll talk about "Flesh Gordon" .......
    wiyosaya likes this.
  18. amghwk

    amghwk TS Guru Posts: 523   +320

    Rockets...meaning lifting off 90° vertically right?

    So...uh... landing is by the cabin capsule dropping with parachute?
  19. LenovoX

    LenovoX TS Booster Posts: 73   +32

    What the heck this chick smoked? I want'it too...
  20. MaikuTech

    MaikuTech TS Evangelist Posts: 1,068   +187

    Well if it does happen we will have a CNN-BBC *special* report almost week when something blows up or crashes by accident.
  21. RobStow

    RobStow TS Enthusiast Posts: 60   +22

    No. SpaceX has demonstrated several times now that they can land their Falcon 9 boosters vertically so that they can be re-used. Videos of that are easy to find on YouTube. Thus I'm sure their (to me) far-fetched notions of using rockets for intercity travel would just leave the "cabin capsule" on the booster and land the whole schmiel.

    I'm sure a parachute option would still be there just in case the normal landing has to be aborted. Rescue vehicles after a parachute landing would, of course, have to provide clean underwear for all passengers.
  22. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,979   +2,285

    Maybe not batteries, but supercapacitors. Then again, the charging station will probably have to be based on superconductors.
  23. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,388   +5,016

    I don't think that will be necessary.
  24. RobStow

    RobStow TS Enthusiast Posts: 60   +22

    Nothing about a charging station would require superconductors ... which is a good thing because it would make it ridiculously expensive to build the charging stations.

    What I would love to see is charging stations with their own solar panels or wind turbines, along with sufficient battery capacity that they could still charge your car when the sun isn't shining or the wind is too calm.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  25. NahNood

    NahNood TS Addict Posts: 121   +64

    Should be possible, but then will it be possible to make it truly safe, etc.

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