Los Angeles to Toronto in less than 30 minutes? Shanghai in under an hour?

That’s the vision unveiled early Friday by Elon Musk, founder of Hawthorne-based SpaceX, as part of his updated blueprint for colonizing Mars within the next seven years, a plan that includes a large, re-usable rocket that he says could revolutionize Earth-bound air travel.

Playfully — and somewhat profanely — dubbed the BFR, the massive rocket described by Musk during a space conference in Australia could be used to send cargo to Mars, with Musk targeting a 2022 launch, and transporting people to begin colonization two years later.

“That’s not a typo,” Musk told the crowd as he displayed a slide showing 2022 as a possible date for a cargo mission to Mars, carrying the initial equipment for building a human colony on the Red Planet. Musk admitted the date is somewhat “aspirational,” but he expressed confidence that SpaceX could have the BFR rocket ready in that time frame.

The BFR, while still large, is reduced slightly in size from Musk’s earlier projections for a Mars-bound space vehicle. So confident is Musk in the BFR, he said SpaceX plans to ultimately put almost its entire focus on manufacturing the vehicle, with the rocket eventually replacing all of the company’s existing rockets. He noted, however, that the company plans to build a stockpile of its current signature rocket, the Falcon 9, for its satellite-launch customers who may feel more comfortable with the tried-and-true equipment.

But in addition to launching equipment and people to Mars — and the moon — Musk said the BFR could have another major advantage for people still on Earth.

He said the reusable rocket could also be used to change the way people travel, carrying people anywhere in the world in less than an hour.

Musk posted a video on his Instagram page that simulates the travel experience, with passengers first boarding a boat carrying them to a launch pad at sea, then boarding the BFR and being rocketed in low orbit around the globe.

“Fly to most places on Earth in under 30 (minutes) and anywhere in under 60,” Musk wrote in his post.

He added that there’s another perk: “Cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft.”

–City News Service

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