“In 5 years, will we be able to take off from France and be in New York in less than an hour?” “Yes”, definitely answers RTL Gwynne Shotwell, the president of Space X visiting France on September 12, 2022.
At more than 27,000 km/h, the rocket would, for example, connect Paris to New York in about thirty minutes. Los Angeles to Shanghai in 36 minutes or Sydney to Zurich in 50 minutes.
The American firm is counting on its rocket to carry out these intercontinental flights in record time. “It’s really a possibility for our Starship rocket. For the moment, we are focusing on the moon, Mars but also on flights from one point to another on Earth, explains the leader to RTL.
Technically speaking, Space X does not target airports to take off with its rocket. This is obviously impossible as it stands. It will therefore not be possible to leave from Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport to fly to John Fitzgerald Kennedy airport in New York.
The company wants to launch its first flights from platforms at sea, but this should not last long. “Once this technology becomes mature, we will be able to calmly consider firing and landing pads on dry land,” explains Gwynne Shotwell. In 2020, Space X had already imagined this possibility of intercontinental flights but without giving a precise date.
What price ?
On the feasibility of these flights, the president of Space X’s activities does not see any major drawbacks. “I’ve been with Space X for 20 years. I’ve seen this company start with a few engineers. Then employees built rockets, then they flew astronauts, then delivered hardware for the international space station and then we flew private astronauts for the first time. We really did a lot of interesting things”, explains the leader.
The price of the ticket remains a mystery for now. It also remains to know the acceptability of such flights for a handful of people around the world. Other unknowns also remain on the first flight within 5 years when we know that much less ambitious projects such as the Volocopter flying taxis will only be able to take off (for demonstration flights) for the Paris Olympics in 2024 while they have been developed for more than 7 years. But the two companies may not play in the same category either…
As for the comfort of the few hundred passengers envisaged per flight, “we do everything to make these flights as smooth as possible”, concludes, confident, Gwynne Shotwell.