Head of SpaceX Elon Musk said that his company is contemplating the idea of using develop spacecraft Starship as a suborbital hypersonic for the carriage of passengers between various cities of the Earth. According to the updated concepts announced by Musk on Twitter, Starship, which is a second stage super-heavy launch Super Heavy, will be able to take off and land without the first stage. This approach, in the view Mask, greatly simplify the concept and reduce the cost of such flights.
The last few years, SpaceX is developing a super-heavy launch vehicle. In “girlhood” rocket was called the BFR, but now it is called the Starship and Super Heavy. According to the current concept, refers to the establishment of a fully reusable two-stage medium with the possibility of landing both stages after payload. In the future rocket will be used to deliver cargo and people into earth orbit and missions to colonize the moon and Mars.
How to get to any place in the world for an hour?
In 2017, the company SpaceX announced the idea of using a two-stage version of the carrier as a passenger suborbital transport, which can deliver people anywhere in the world in just 30-60 minutes. It was assumed that the missile will initially take off as usual. Then, after stage separation, the first to get to the launch site or offshore platform, and the second with passengers on Board to go to sea platform in another city and also land. Passengers between sea the landing platform and the city was proposed to be delivered via a high-speed transport.
In General, this concept, at least at first glance, it seemed workable, but it still had some issues of a technical and practical nature. Fortunately, with the progress of the development of super-heavy carrier rocket BFR, which for the last 18 or so months has changed significantly, the company has worked and changes in the concept of a hypersonic suborbital passenger transport.
In a conversation with one of his followers on “Twitter” Musk shared some thoughts on this. One of the users said that the Starship (the second stage of the rocket) with full fuel tanks has a too low thrust-to use it as a single-stage space system. In the current configuration Starship must be equipped with six engines, three of which are optimized to work in the atmosphere, and the other three to work in a vacuum.
Musk said that the addition of two or four engines Raptor for Starship will allow you to use this stage for suborbital flights at a distance of about 10,000 kilometers at a speed of Mach 20 (6.9 kilometers per second, or nearly 25,000 miles per hour). It is certainly less than evaluation “in less than an hour anywhere in the world”, but still very quickly. For example, a flight between new York and London in this case, it will only take about 20 minutes. About 40 minutes will be required for a flight between Los Angeles and Tokyo.
The reduction of flight distance, of course, will limit the potential usefulness and versatility of such transport, but the market is ultra-fast passenger transport, there are niches where it could find its application.
It is important to note that the system proposed SpaceX may have to compete with supersonic aircraft, which is now actively developing several companies. This is because in addition to the time-of-flight passengers will spend your time driving between the city and the spaceport.
According to managing Director of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell, it is likely that the company will be able to begin to offer the service of a hypersonic suborbital passenger transport in 2025.