SpaceX Plans to Replace Long-Haul Flights with Rocket Travel

IcePickFreak

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I mean seems great and all, but wasn't the Concorde grounded because it wasn't profitable anymore due to not enough passengers? I doubt there's going to be champagne on a rocket flight so you just alienated a large part of your potential customer base right off the bat.
 

pcgeekesq

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Meanwhile, all us peasants will be stacked like cordwood in the economy class of airplanes, assuming we can even afford that.
So? That's not news, and BFR suborbital flights won't change it.
In fact, even if BFR suborbital flights cost less to the operator than aircraft, they'll be priced higher than aircraft, because a successful business prices products and services on value to the customer, not on cost to the business. For example: Apple charges almost $1000 for phones that costs under $200 to make. So as long as there are more people who want to fly BFR than seats on the rockets, peasants won't be able to afford BFR.
 

pcgeekesq

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I mean seems great and all, but wasn't the Concorde grounded because it wasn't profitable anymore due to not enough passengers?
Concorde was forbidden to fly at supersonic speeds over land because of sonic booms, and therefor wound up flying only a limited number of routes.
Even with that: "Research revealed that the Concorde passengers thought that the fare was higher than it actually was, so airlines raised ticket prices to match these perceptions. It is reported that British Airways then ran Concorde at a profit." Wikipedia, "Concorde"

BFR won't have a sonic boom problem: in space, no one can hear you boom.

P.S. I don't drink champagne when flying First or Business class, I drink Bailey's. All I want. :)
 

griffinhart

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Concorde was forbidden to fly at supersonic speeds over land because of sonic booms, and therefor wound up flying only a limited number of routes.
Even with that: "Research revealed that the Concorde passengers thought that the fare was higher than it actually was, so airlines raised ticket prices to match these perceptions. It is reported that British Airways then ran Concorde at a profit." Wikipedia, "Concorde"

BFR won't have a sonic boom problem: in space, no one can hear you boom.

P.S. I don't drink champagne when flying First or Business class, I drink Bailey's. All I want. :)
No sonic boom problems, but the actual launch and landing are even worse than a sonic boom. Even 4 miles away, a rocket launch is extremely loud. louder than a Sonic Boom 30000 feet in the air.

Which leads me to ask, where would they put these launch pads? Where near New York, Boston, London or Paris would be appropriate? Keep in mind, the explosive power of a failed launch is equivalent to half of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Given that the Concorde wasn't allowed to breach the sound barrier until it was over the ocean, what about a rocket that is louder, and also has a sonic boom as it needs to break the sound barrier before it leaves the atmosphere.

It's also worth mentioning that current flight times have nothing to do with how fast an airliner can go. It's all about efficiency. The fact is, flights today are actually longer than they were 40 years ago.

Here's an interesting video on that topic.

 

AceGoober

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Spend 4 hours putting on a suit for a 30 minute ride that could be done in less time with safer forms of travel. Sounds like a time saver to me!
 

nutzo

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It's also worth mentioning that current flight times have nothing to do with how fast an airliner can go. It's all about efficiency. The fact is, flights today are actually longer than they were 40 years ago.

People don't realize that planes are flying slower in order to save money on fuel.
The bean counters figure out the fuel costs, personal costs, etc. to try and make the most money.
 

pcgeekesq

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Which leads me to ask, where would they put these launch pads?
Do a little poking around, they showed where the pads would be in the original video disclosing their plans, over six months ago.
But I have to wonder why you keep coming up with reasons to diss an idea you apparently haven't done any looking in to.
 

wyqtor

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Spend 4 hours putting on a suit for a 30 minute ride that could be done in less time with safer forms of travel. Sounds like a time saver to me!

Who says anything about a suit? Are you putting on a suit when flying your standard transcontinental plane at 10,000 m above sea level? Because you can't survive up there, at that pressure, either.
 

griffinhart

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Do a little poking around, they showed where the pads would be in the original video disclosing their plans, over six months ago.
But I have to wonder why you keep coming up with reasons to diss an idea you apparently haven't done any looking in to.
Wow, I get it. You just REALLY REALLY want this to be a thing.

The problem is that just because it could be done, doesn't mean it's practical, fiscally sound or even that it should be done.

Flight times wouldn't be just 30 minutes unless you think it's wise to subject the general public to 10G's of force.

These things would have to be located in remote enough locations to mitigate dangers and noise levels. That means getting to and from the launch pads would add hours to the trip.

Flight Prep and loading would take hours longer than that of an airplane.

In the end, you may half the total time of a 20 hour flight, at a much more expensive cost with much higher risk. In the end, it would be cheaper and faster to use a supersonic airliner. A planned design that can reach Mach 3 would make that 20 hour flight in about 4 hours, without the crazy risk and the ability to use current airports and ATC.

Support and infrastructure cost would be crazy expensive, the idea that a ticket would be similar cost to a business class ticket is far fetched.

This doesn't even begin to touch on other issues such as weather conditions. We can only launch rockets in very specific conditions.

It's not any single reason that the idea will never happen, but a whole host of reasons why it's a pipe dream.
 

griffinhart

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Who says anything about a suit? Are you putting on a suit when flying your standard transcontinental plane at 10,000 m above sea level? Because you can't survive up there, at that pressure, either.
An airliner doesn't subject it's passengers to a 3 to 10G load. At a minimum, pressure suits would be required.
 

Galvin

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Due to noise. You'd probably have to take a shuttle flight to the launch pad. What ever happened to the space plane?
 

IcePickFreak

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You're not covering the 5,700mi from London to Shanghai in a half-hour going under the sound barrier. The article in the link here also says that flight would costs about the same as a first class flight in a regular plane does. That's gotta be using some really wishful numbers on people per flight, efficiencies etc. British Airways got rid of the Concorde because it wasn't profitable anymore due to not enough passengers.

This just seems like "concept phase" ideas until they find out you in fact can't have rockets screeching across the sky on re-entry to the lower atmosphere all over the place, how many people can afford it and/or actually willing to strap into a rocket etc. I mean props to him if he can make it happen in a sustainable and reliable manner within the real worlds restrictions and laws. I personally smell another "shifting focus" story in the future where this tune changes quite a bit, much like the high speed tunnels with handy parking spaces on the street that lower into the ground to wisk you away into the future™.

Everyone remembers the infamous flying car of Popular Mechanics. Well there were several space plane and rocket plane ones over the decades as well. ;)
 

aaronspink

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The space shuttle used $1.4 million worth of LFO per launch, plus two huge solid boosters. You are not going to see 240 passengers on a rocket. Not ever.

The day a flight of 240 people leaves the atmosphere it won't be on a rocket.

It costs $50,000 to lift a single pound of stuff into orbit. Sub orbital trajectories would reduce that, but to nothing even remotely close to the average of five bucks a pound you're allowing for humans.

Eh? F9 is already at $1233 per lb to LEO. BFR has the same pressurized volume as the lower deck of an a380 which can easily carry 250+ people.
 

pcgeekesq

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Wow, I get it. You just REALLY REALLY want this to be a thing.

The problem is that just because it could be done, doesn't mean it's practical, fiscally sound or even that it should be done.

Flight times wouldn't be just 30 minutes unless you think it's wise to subject the general public to 10G's of force.

These things would have to be located in remote enough locations to mitigate dangers and noise levels. That means getting to and from the launch pads would add hours to the trip.

Flight Prep and loading would take hours longer than that of an airplane.

In the end, you may half the total time of a 20 hour flight, at a much more expensive cost with much higher risk. In the end, it would be cheaper and faster to use a supersonic airliner. A planned design that can reach Mach 3 would make that 20 hour flight in about 4 hours, without the crazy risk and the ability to use current airports and ATC.

Support and infrastructure cost would be crazy expensive, the idea that a ticket would be similar cost to a business class ticket is far fetched.

This doesn't even begin to touch on other issues such as weather conditions. We can only launch rockets in very specific conditions.

It's not any single reason that the idea will never happen, but a whole host of reasons why it's a pipe dream.

You just keep making things up without any evidence.
Why? Do you think it's productive?

Elon Musk didn't just sketch this out on a napkin. His engineering teams had already cranked the numbers -- including the cost numbers -- before last September's video presentation.
Have you cranked the numbers?
No, you have not.
Nay nay nay, that's all you say, and your nays have about as much cred as if they had come from a barnyard animal.

Fortunately, Elon Musk doesn't care what you say, and he doesn't need your agreement or money.
 

workshop35

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It makes sense. Why spend time slowly crawling through the atmosphere with jet engines when you could just hop over most of it?

We haven't been doing this already because the tech wasn't quite there yet.
Its still not here yet. I wouldnt hop on anything spacex until they stop blowing up their rockets. However its an awesome idea and i hope they can make it happen someday
 

Blakestr

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Its still not here yet. I wouldnt hop on anything spacex until they stop blowing up their rockets. However its an awesome idea and i hope they can make it happen someday

Come on buddy, where's your spirit of adventure? Be part of the omelette of progress!
 

workshop35

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Come on buddy, where's your spirit of adventure? Be part of the omelette of progress!
Omelettle of progress LOL

I used to test solid propellant, composite cases, and completed motors for a living (Atlas SRB, THAAD, HAWK, ect). I'd have a hard time sitting in a vehicle propelled by that kind of power unless I knew the chance of blowing up was much more in my favor.
 

WhoMe

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Concorde was forbidden to fly at supersonic speeds over land because of sonic booms, and therefor wound up flying only a limited number of routes.
Even with that: "Research revealed that the Concorde passengers thought that the fare was higher than it actually was, so airlines raised ticket prices to match these perceptions. It is reported that British Airways then ran Concorde at a profit." Wikipedia, "Concorde"

BFR won't have a sonic boom problem: in space, no one can hear you boom.

P.S. I don't drink champagne when flying First or Business class, I drink Bailey's. All I want. :)
I was twice under the space shuttle's landing route (when it was landing at Edwards AFB and swung in near Tahoe), and heard three sonic booms from it. Now on takeoff, any rocket that breaks the speed of sound (and that includes model rockets, it's not that hard) will create a sonic boom, but because of the near vertical trajectory the boom travels parallel to the ground, some birds might hear it, but nobody on the ground will.

I find it cheaper to buy my Bailey's in the grocery store than get a first class ticket ;).
 

M76

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You just keep making things up without any evidence.
Why? Do you think it's productive?

Elon Musk didn't just sketch this out on a napkin. His engineering teams had already cranked the numbers -- including the cost numbers -- before last September's video presentation.
Have you cranked the numbers?
No, you have not.
Nay nay nay, that's all you say, and your nays have about as much cred as if they had come from a barnyard animal.

Fortunately, Elon Musk doesn't care what you say, and he doesn't need your agreement or money.
Wow, you're really obnoxious, and didn't even address the points he made. Have you cranked the numbers? Or do you just take the sales pitch at face value? Because the numbers say that BFR is a stupid idea for now commercially.
 

funkydmunky

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Popular Science Magazine had this shit as a head-line 50 years ago. And duplicated every year since.
Quite the racket. I wish I was in on it.

 

velusip

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...BFR won't have a sonic boom problem: in space, no one can hear you boom...
Interesting topic. The high altitude sonic booms of rockets cause some really unusual interference in all kinds of radio systems. e.g. very short blackouts in long wave bands (10m+) and noticable skewing (dopplar) in timekeeping, position (GPS, GLONASS, DORIS), SAR data (synthetic apeture RADAR), and other ground imaging signals. The short blackouts can be frustrating considering how many industries rely on satellite data these days.
 

krotch

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An airliner doesn't subject it's passengers to a 3 to 10G load. At a minimum, pressure suits would be required.

What if they did it more like 5th Element style? Jam your ass in a pod, then knock you out with some gas.

thefifthelement-sleepregulator-006.png
 

krotch

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You are aware that most manned rockets don't undergo that much force at launch anymore, right?

Satellite launches are limited to 4 G. The Space Shuttle, when it was around was 3 G. Falcon 9 can hit up to 4.5 G, depending on payload.

Untrained individuals black out around 3-5G without a g-suit. Course, like I said, just knock them out before launch. I think the problem could be the descending. While the g-forces will be lower, it's sustained over a much longer period. I believe astronauts still use g-suits for the 1.5 G of reentry, as it's like 17+ mins long.

But, I haven't a clue about well, any of it. I'm just reading stuff, cause I was curious.
 

PaulP

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Wow, I get it. You just REALLY REALLY want this to be a thing.

The problem is that just because it could be done, doesn't mean it's practical, fiscally sound or even that it should be done.

Flight times wouldn't be just 30 minutes unless you think it's wise to subject the general public to 10G's of force.

These things would have to be located in remote enough locations to mitigate dangers and noise levels. That means getting to and from the launch pads would add hours to the trip.

Flight Prep and loading would take hours longer than that of an airplane.

In the end, you may half the total time of a 20 hour flight, at a much more expensive cost with much higher risk. In the end, it would be cheaper and faster to use a supersonic airliner. A planned design that can reach Mach 3 would make that 20 hour flight in about 4 hours, without the crazy risk and the ability to use current airports and ATC.

Support and infrastructure cost would be crazy expensive, the idea that a ticket would be similar cost to a business class ticket is far fetched.

This doesn't even begin to touch on other issues such as weather conditions. We can only launch rockets in very specific conditions.

It's not any single reason that the idea will never happen, but a whole host of reasons why it's a pipe dream.
Your rant reminds me of some things that were written about airplane travel about 100 years ago. Too dangerous, too expensive, not practical for the average person, etc. They were so sure there would NEVER be a commercial airline business. How wrong they were. Today there is the equivalent of a large city worth of people in the sky at all the time, 24 hours a day. I think you are wrong too; it's just a matter of time.
 

defaultluser

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Even at $10,000 per seat, that's only $1mil. There's no way they keep this at the cost of business travel. Unless they meant business travel if each person chartered their own private jet.

There's also the little thing of how they're landing, is this a shuttle?

It lands just like every other device Musk has built. On the end with the thrust :D

I guess you missed the synchronized landings of the two support boosters from Falcon Heavy two months back? All they have to do is solve the reuse lifetime problem, and this will succeed where Concorde failed.

They're targeting almost the same reuse as an aircraft (all stages reused), but the same efficiency as a normal rocket, so if the lifetime targets can be hit the costs COULD be competitive. The only downside is you have to build a dedicated launch pad 5+ miles away from humans.

Yeah, it costs extra fuel to go to orbit. But it also costs extra fuel for aircraft to carry those business-class sleeper chairs. The fuel cost difference between the two could end up being pretty small.
 
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