Elon Musk has been trying to revolutionize the way we travel on land by constructing an ultra-fast hyperloop and a series of subterranean highways with The Boring Company. But SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell believes that the next big step in transportation here on Earth shouldn’t be underground but in the sky.
The aerospace executive spoke at the TED Conference in Vancouver Thursday and said that within ten years we’ll be able to hop on a rocket to get from New York City to Shanghai in 39 minutes. Musk posted an animated video teasing this concept on his Instagram in October 2017. The video caption stated that customers would be able to travel “anywhere in under 60 minutes” for about the same cost as economy airfare.
The tech mogul is known to make lofty statements, but Shotwell’s comments confirmed that confirmed that this is an effort both her and Musk are pushing forward.
“I’m personally invested in this one because I travel a lot and I do not love to travel,” she says. “I would love to get to see my customers in Riyadh [the capital of Saudi Arabia], leave in the morning and be back [in the United States] in time to make dinner.”
Musk briefly explained his plan for this project when he spoked at the 2017 International Astronautical Congress. The CEO stated that he would repurpose SpaceX’s Big Fucking Rocket to make suborbital, hypersonic trips to various cities across the globe. Shotwell argued during her talk that at 100 passengers per flight, the company would be able to price these voyages somewhere between economy and business-class fares.
If SpaceX is able to turn these lofty claims into reality, it would blow any other commercial airline out of the water in terms of price and flight time. This could usher in a new era of suborbital rocket travel in order for airline companies to remain commercially viable.