Spacex Point to Point trip market

Spacex’s Elon Musk talked about flying to different points on the Earth in his BFR rocket presentation.

Spacex would be able to transport people at 18,000 mph and make
5000 miles trips in 20 minutes (regularly 10 hours) and
8000-9000 miles trips in 30 minutes (regularly 12-14 hours) and
10,000-11,000 mile trips in 40 minutes (18 hours or more with connections).

In 2018, there will be about 4 billion airline passengers. About 2% fly first class on international routes. This is about 80 million first class seat flights per year.

Flights are growing at 2-4% per year.

If Spacex were to get launch costs down to $4-8 million and were able to move 500 passengers at a time for $10,000 to 20,000 per person, they might capture 20% of the first class market.

16 million passengers per year would be 32,000 full flights. This would be 80-90 flights per day.
Spacex would have to establish regular daily or three times weekly routes between heavily trafficked locations.
There would also be revenue from rapid package delivery.

All of Spacex longer flights would be sub-orbital trips.

Spacex will also be able to create new markets exclusively for sub-orbital, orbital, lunar and other space tourism.

In a Reddit interview, Elon indicated that Spacex will have to prove the Spacex BFR to be as safe or safer than passenger jets to develop the point to point market.

About 20% of flights are international long haul.

The private jet market has about 400,000 flights per year.

There are about 200,000 people with over $30 million in net worth and 1.4 million with over $5 million in net worth.

There were 20 Concorde supersonic jets and tickets cost about double first class. First class tickets now tend to cost in the range of $10,000 to 20,000.

23 thoughts on “Spacex Point to Point trip market”

  1. Okay, here goes the time table:
    1 hour from downtown USA to airport (spaceport?) 2 hours check in security and boarding procedures, 20 minutes to get to the take off position. 20 minutes at 10 g acceleration and 10 g deceleration. 20 minutes to taxiing to the terminal.
    What is left of your body will then disembark, wait for the luggage and one hour later yet hail a Tokyo taxi for another 1 hour drive to your downtown destination.
    I just love it!

    Reply
  2. Okay, here goes the time table:
    1 hour from downtown USA to airport (spaceport?) 2 hours check in security and boarding procedures, 20 minutes to get to the take off position. 20 minutes at 10 g acceleration and 10 g deceleration. 20 minutes to taxiing to the terminal.
    What is left of your body will then disembark, wait for the luggage and one hour later yet hail a Tokyo taxi for another 1 hour drive to your downtown destination.
    I just love it!

    Reply
  3. This should happen any day now. Can’t wait to board Elon’s ICBMs.
    Just hope he improves on the success rate of Falcon 9 (95.3%). Although how hard could it be? He just has to improve the rockets reliability about 1,000,000 times to match airlines. That’s a walk in a park for a twitter genius like Elon Musk.
    Also hope it doesn’t follow the same development path as Falcon Heavy which was supposed to launch in 2013 and still hasn’t been tested, otherwise I would have to wait until 2026 to hop on the ICBM and head back to the KGB headquarters and hand in my report.

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    • As has already been pointed out to you, the BFR no more resembles an ICBM more than a passenger airliner resembles a bomber. Reliability comes with re-use — since you aren’t throwing away the evidence of what reduces it.

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  4. The unanswered question is what about the sonic booms?

    If you watch videos of people viewing the Falcon 9 first stage returns, you see them all jump when the sonic boom hits. It is probably concentrated by the downward velocity, and while it would be audible to a smaller area than say a transcontinental SST, certainly anyone in the neighborhood of the landing area would be exposed to the boom. I suspect landing areas would have to be >20 miles away from habitation if you have daily flights.

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  5. I think that they will take some market in the very long haul lucrative market only. Consider also that it will take time till launch prices will get down to that levels. That shuttling to the mostly marine launch pads are going to take longer. That the rockets and the launch pads are going to be way more weather sensitive than land airports and airplanes. That airplanes will always use less fuel as they have air breathing jet engines instead of rockets that do not have to climb all the way to space.

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  6. “500 passengers at a time” – I don’t think so. The capacity of the BFR exceeds by an order of magnitude the number of passengers likely to pay the big bucks for the trip.

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    • The capacity of the BFR exceeds by an order of magnitude the number of passengers likely to pay the big bucks for the trip.

      It really depends on what kind of experience they want to give to their passengers. It can be a pleasant, Epcot-like futuristic experience or be stacked like cattle.

      Given Musk’s companies don’t tend to cater to the low end markets, I doubt it will be the later.

      But it may come to happen it no longer depends on him and his company’s choice, if SpaceX turns into just a rocket manufacturer in the future.

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  7. Let` s see..
    Usually people are not confortable when they are on a plane on turbulence
    Many people are scared to fly
    How may people would sit on a rocket with 2G, 3G, 5G accelerations?
    Most rich peple are quite old
    Some of them have peacemakers
    How would they cope with a 3G acceleration?
    And deceleration?

    A skeptic Luca

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    • Back in the 1990’s when people were experimenting with the DCX SSTO idea. I saw an article on using such tech for getting anywhere on earth in < 1 hour. A major market mentioned was small packages of equipment that was needed *very* soon. That would likely be a bigger market than passengers, at least initially, assuming the idea works at all.

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  8. Look, if the market doesn’t pan out, what’s the worst that happens? SpaceX has a giant ass rocket that’s cheaper to launch than anything else on the market for years. They might be billions in debt, but they would basically have a monopoly at that point. Also, Elon will have a net worth of billions and could bail out SpaceX if needed.

    And if it does pan out…

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  9. I think it will be lower than 7million per launch, at least the cost to spacex will be far lower. The market will appear when launch cost are that low. There will be dozens of companies from huge to smallest trying to do stuff in space. Also, Spacex will totally corner the space tourism market. Instead of doing suborbital flights like Virgin Galactic for 200K a ticket for 5 passengers Spacex will be able to take 400 passenger to orbit the planet for 20K a ticket or even take them around the moon (one week trip) for a 100K a ticket food and drink included!

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  10. Very doubtful.

    This kind of travel means very unconfortable travel and high risk (in comparison with traditional air travel).
    So the market is small.
    And he needs a huge market to make a lot of flights to get the costs down.
    Without get the costs down, the market is even smaller.

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  11. If Elon was to increase the number of engines on Space Ship it would be able to do most of the routes without the need for a booster stage. This would make for a lot safer and cheaper flights. I am hoping Elon will come to such realization during testing of BFS.

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        • 1.3 g means more acceleration than freefall
          Freefall is not frecisely a pleasant condition
          It applies to a plane which is in free fall
          Not sure many people will love
          1.3 is 30% more
          I am skeptic dear, really

          Reply
          • “1.3 g means more acceleration than freefall
            Freefall is not frecisely a pleasant condition
            It applies to a plane which is in free fall
            Not sure many people will love
            1.3 is 30% more
            I am skeptic dear, really – Luca”

            You do know that freefall is 0g, and 1.3 is just 30% more than what you feel right now, and for a 80 kg man it is just equivalent of a very-well-distributed 24kg load, AKA nothing?

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  12. While an interesting potential, this proposal hinges in too many unknowns to say if it will pan out or not.

    For example, it depends on SpaceX delivering BFR and BFS as stated in IAC’17, test them long enough and ensure they are even close to the reliability level required for passenger airplanes.

    Gee, the problem is to ensure even NASA would use BFR/BFS for launching astronauts before several years of tests pass.

    This testing can be partially done by ‘regular’ space launches, but no foreseeable growth of space market would require any single rocket to be launched several hundred times per year, as most passenger airplanes are.

    And let’s not forget that the transition to passenger service also passes through regulation hurdles and standardization requirements, which could take several years to be done.

    Under such criteria, PTP service could arrive several years after BFR and BFS are launching stuff to Mars and back. Maybe in the early 2030s?

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    • I suspect that this is something which would actually follow successful space use, given the large number of “legacy issues” such as local licensing, the usual relentlessly stupid geopolitics, environmental/noise factors being different for every different facility and thus a far more difficult framework than relatively uniform airport-to-airport issues.

      Reply

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