SpaceX Starship Will Carry 1000 People Anywhere on Earth – Cost $500-2000

Elon Musk tweeted that he is looking at 1000 passengers for point to point travel. Because it will be a 20-minute flight on a fully reusable then the ticket cost could be $500-1000 per person. It will feel like a roller coaster but you will exit on another continent.

Ticket prices in the $500 to 2000 range would be business class or even competitive with international economy airline tickets. However, the flight times would be 20 minutes instead of 8-24 hours.

If SpaceX can reach improved safety then they would be able to replace almost all flights with over 8 hour flying time for coach, business, first class and private jet.

There were over 4.1 billion flights and over 1 billion were longer flights. Flights are increasing at about 10% per year.

SOURCES- Elon Musk Twitter
Written by Brian Wang,

76 thoughts on “SpaceX Starship Will Carry 1000 People Anywhere on Earth – Cost $500-2000”

  1. A thousand Marines on your doorstep in a half an an hour anywhere on the globe…. sounds like something out of Starship Troopers…

  2. I’m not a fan of those either… just multiply that by a couple of magnitudes by putting rockets engines into the mix.

  3. Yeah, but subsonic airliners damage the ozone layer too, plus having a greenhouse effect about three times higher than just their fuel use would indicate. I think if we get serious about global warming – or when, rather – we’ll have to retreat from avgas jets, just as we did from Concorde. Nuclear powered ekranoplanes could move people around fast enough, in more comfort, without endangering most of humanity for the convenience of an elite minority.

  4. Sounds about on a par with jumping off cliffs in a bat suit. There’s a market for that, but not a large one, and most people who’ve amassed enough loose cash for a rocket flight would not be part of it. ( Personally, I’d go for the bat suit. You’ve got more control of the variables than you do strapped on top of a hundred foot cylinder of explosives.)

  5. I don’t think that SpaceX is sure to fail at all. I think they’ll be phenomenally successful. But some kinds of engineering can be accomplished through discrete acts of innovation, while some kinds need to be ground out over a long period, simply because experience is required. Building a launcher can be done with the former if you’re very, very good. But passenger-level reliability isn’t. It’s gonna take a while.

    There are plenty of cargo and exploration missions that don’t require that kind of reliability, though. The common carrier market will still be there when they’re ready.

  6. Yes and there’s many more other metrics I included in the etc. Some of them arguably more important.

    But the key point is that the characterization found in some of these posts is exaggerated. It’s not exaggerated that SpaceX, and everyone else competing, are facing monumental challenges both in themselves and historically. But It’s exaggerated that SpaceX is sure to fail and that their goals are surely impossible and that their timelines are surely something like an OoM off if not more rather than off by some amount that ultimately puts them at the finish line roughly just as much ahead of their competition as they already are.

    No one else is simultaneously or separately doing everything the Musk companies (that’s not fanboyism, just the fact that they’re all inarguably under the same umbrella, to put it lightly) are doing.

    We live in this span of time where some of these on their own would have been wildly optimistic just a handful of decades ago. And we have the luxury of arguing over how much of a rotten bastard Musk is (scaryjello & co) how much of a dirty plague he and we are to the planet (that dude arguing we should take saunas and breathe deeply to cure aging) or how impossible whatever the next big paradigm Musk envisions and everyone at SpaceX etc wring themselves out to actually make a reality; and it all seems impossible till it actually happens.

    A day late and a dollar short. But still a whole paradigm ahead of the previous stupid status quo.

  7. The most relevant of those, though, would be Dragon 1 to Crew Dragon. And there the record is more ambiguous. Human-rating spacecraft for experimental crews that accept high risk is hard. Doing it for common-carrier passengers is going to be just ghastly.

  8. Well, under a large enough grain of salt, one might find that recent tweet by Musk that they’re accelerating development by a lot. Maybe some workforce shifting from Falcon to SHSS.

    Anyway, let’s take their track record as baseline: from nothing to F1, from F1 to F9, from F9 to F9R, from F9R-B5 to SS, etc.

  9. Yeah, all-cargo is a good point.

    Human-rating any of this stuff is gonna be tough. Clearly doing as many launches as possible is a big part of getting the error bars down on your probability of loss. Selling service to some of the express cargo carriers would do that nicely.

    BTW: I get nowhere near 1000 passengers (= 100 tonnes), even with a nine-engine Starship SSTSO. If you’re looking at true antipodal service, even with only 5 t of payload, it takes at least 2 and often 3 hops. But if you’re doing cargo-only, you can use a SuperHeavy again, and then you really can do 100 tonnes, maybe more.

  10. I’ve never much liked the air travel vs. auto travel safety comparisons, because I’m a good driver and good drivers have a MUCH better chance of avoiding or mitigating a car crash than poor drivers, whereas with air travel you have no control at all, other than the board or not board question.

  11. Best contra point I’ve seen so far. The fact is, rocket travel is inherently uncomfortable, relative to other methods, like spaceplanes. Which is why I think spaceplanes have a future – there will always be a large constituency for comfortable but slower travel.

  12. Probably a safe prediction. On the other hand, there had never been an aviation industry, until there was. SpaceX is breaking a lot of the old barriers (most conspicuously, reuse). So I’m not going to rule them out.

    Still, Musk is probably going to make a zillion bucks with Starlink so he may just decide the risk is more bother than it’s worth.

  13. Wait, what now?

    Military aviation is what got commercial aviation off the ground. Pun intended.

  14. Thought I’d interject that non-human cargo is the middle ground here. That’s how SpaceX can get over the “aviation did it when tolerance of risk was higher” hump.

  15. The fence is a wise place to be. I hope Musk makes this happen. I’ll take a wait-and-see approach until he does.

  16. so im guessing people with certain health issues, very young children and babies, as well and handicap wont be using this ?

  17. ~40,000 in the US.

    And I mind. We need safer vehicles and safer roads.

    Some are suicides or murder–suicides. Not a whole lot we can do about that or at least from the transit angle. But that is probably less than 20% of the fatalities. Effectively impossible to get good numbers. But the opioid epidemic may be contributing to the total.
    The uptick in spam texts may also be a factor…distracting drivers. High rent and consequent homelessness may also be a factor. That is likely due to less homes being built that are needed in some cities. And smartphone use by pedestrians is certainly a factor in the increase in pedestrian deaths.
    There also seems to be a pattern of automakers making cars with shorter windows reducing viability. And dang bright headlights, I think is a major contributor, but I haven’t seen anything on that. Also, the light produced needs to be yellower. Traffic signals also don’t illuminate the intersections like they used to because of the mostly LED lights with just one color. The old lights had other colors of light in there that helped illuminate the intersection. We need more lights in intersections to make up for that. More pedestrian bridges/tunnels would be nice as well. All the rental scooters, bicycles, and Uber/Lyft loading and unloading may be a factor as well. The vehicles are not prominently marked like taxis are, so stops may be more of a surprise to other drivers.

  18. I am not totally sold on it, I’m on the fence… But if I had to choose I would bet on SpaceX not resting on their laurels to get everything done asap, yet again.

  19. I’d be less worried about groundbreaking engineering and more about backbreaking engineering. We don’t currently have the technology to make rocket engines safe enough for commercial aviation. The same goes for tankage, and refueling procedures, and a host of other systems.

    That’s the kind of stuff that takes lots of incremental improvements, and those take lots of time.

  20. Largely agree, but with two caveats:

    1) Doesn’t matter whether it’s 5 passengers or 5000; as soon as you start behaving like a common carrier, you’ll get regulated like a common carrier. The FAA will insist, quite rightly, that you adhere to the same aviation safety standards as any other manufacturer or operator.

    2) I wouldn’t get too hung up on the 1000 passengers thing. I doubt that that’s the sweet spot. Airbus is already having trouble with the A380’s size, and it’s nowhere near 1000. SpaceX can do a very nice biz doing mixed passenger and cargo flights, though. Still, they’ll have to hit the safety specs.

  21. Problem is, the very first 1000-pax disaster can kill it. And it will be great if it won’t kill the whole spacex.
    Aviation industry passed the same period when acceptance of risks was different.

  22. Especially after a traditional astronaut steak and egg breakfast! Hopefully, the Standard American Diet (SAD) will become extinct in the near future!

  23. What about the yearly death rate with autos, >30k/yr. People don’t mind some dead bodies in exchange for convenience

  24. Agreed. I wouldn’t be that suprised if it worked out something like they project. But I’d be much less surprised if it didn’t.

  25. It was the 70s. This is 2019. I mean… SpaceX isn’t building a Shuttle. This is like arguing that the F9R was “impossible”.

  26. There are other challenges that would somewhat erode the benefits over jetliner travel. Rather than 8-18 hours vs. 20 minutes, the real comparison, considering the whole travel turnaround, will more likely be 11-21 hours vs. 6-8 hours. First, how far will you have to drive to reach a gigantic-powerful-rocket port? Unless they suppress the tremendous loudness of those launches, the sites will need to be a substantial distance from urban locations. Will you drive there? Take a short regional flight hop there? This will be more manageable once aerotaxis become commonplace. Second, there will still be check-in, security, luggage issues. How will those be faster? Third, to become a routine option, SpaceX would need many rockets going to many destinations, all at the same time. At the moment, there is not even 1 Raptor engine in existence certified for a single launch, much less a 1,000 launches, and each rocket will need 6. SpaceX has announced that it’ll be manufacturing 2-a-day by the end of 2019. However, depending on the turnaround time (refueling will take some time), maybe each rocket could make 4-6 flights every 24 hours? If so, 4,000-6,000 passengers a day per rocket is 8-10 times more than typical long-route jetliners. Even if only halving the travel time, it puts many more distant destinations in the mix as 1-week vacation destinations. Also, there’s the thrill of a short rocket ride vs. the dread of a long jetliner flight. Now I see how it can work.

  27. I think Starship has a lot of potential for orbital launch service. I think the suborbital travel business is a questionable, and likely to take decades before the safety record is good enough to be considered a substitute for conventional air travel.

  28. If I go to space it won’t be to visit. It will be to stay. So, yes, some place to sleep and take a crap would be nice.

  29. I see safety as being somewhat surmountabl.e I think bigger factors are passenger comfort and convenience. Fast flights are purely a convenience play, and if that requires being subjected to extreme g forces (Falcon 9 apparently hits up to 6g then near weighlessness). I guess this is similar to highest g forces experienced on the most extreme amusement park rides, which many people would not sign up for.

    That makes me question if the convenience is worth the discomfort.

  30. I think the zero g will be more of a problem. The sudden shift from high g to zero g causes many a trained astronaut to toss their cookies. With untrained passengers this will become the great sub-orbital vomit comet.

  31. Just because it’s physically possible does not mean the current crop of scientists and engineers can do it.

    There were similar spacefaring dreams in the ’70s.
    How did those work out?

  32. I predict this will not work out. There has never been a rocket program that has shown safety record needed for commercial flight. Most likely rockets are just too risky. The risk is because of:

    1. need for dense – concentrated fuel / oxidizer stored on board.
    2. extreme speeds = extreme stressors on vehicle body
    3. no wings for lift, so it falls like rock / goes out of control whenever something goes wrong.

    Spaceflight has ~1.5% death-rate per passanger-flight so far. In 2018, the USA had 13 fatal skydiving accidents out of roughly 3.3 million jumps or about .0004%. Space is 3,750x riskier than skydiving.

    I say for Starship to be used for commercial transport it must be no more than 10x riskier than skydiving. Can it really be 375x safer than history of spaceflight so far?

  33. Starship Single Stage Suborbital as proposed by Elon Musk (10,000km range at Mach 20) will be using 8-10 Raptor engines. Let’s say 9. Each Raptor engine has about twice the thrust of a Merlin used on the Falcon 9.

    Falcon 9 is about 156dB of noise at 125 feet during liftoff.

    Falcon Heavy is about 160dB at liftoff, with 3x the thrust of Falcon 9.

    So Starship Single Stage Suborbital’s noise at liftoff (2x the thrust of a Falcon 9) will be somewhere between an F9 and a Falcon Heavy.

    That’s not bad considering that Saturn V’s noise level is about 204dB at liftoff. (A full Starship/Superheavy stack will have 31 Raptors, 50% more thrust than a Saturn V. Don’t think that will be practical though for Earth point-to-point flights).

    TItusville is about 8 miles from KSC Pad 39A where F9 and FH launch from. Far as I know there are no special precautions needed for Titusville residents as far as launch noise is concerned whenever SpaceX launches from 39A.

    An ocean platform 10 miles from a coastal city should be adequate for noise mitigation for Starship Single Stage Suborbital launches.

    As far as weather goes, Starship has a far lower fineness ratio (ratio of length of rocket to its diameter) than Falcon 9 and will be able to fly in far worse weather than F9 ever can. And yes, rockets with lower fineness ratios do fly in crappy weather– The Russian Soyuz have launched during the middle of blizzards.

  34. If we really want faster boarding.

    1. Forget weight limits on hand luggage. The person carrying it must be able to hold said luggage with a horizontally extended arm for 30 seconds. That’s the problem: not the actual weight but people unable to handle their own bags.
    2. A bag transported on little wheels is not “hand luggage”
    3. A system that automatically ejects any passenger that takes longer than 30 seconds to sit down and put on their seatbelt. The 1st class waiting lounge has a full view of the lake where said ejected passengers land. It isn’t filled with crocodiles, which is how you distinguish it from where the passengers who don’t turn their phone off land.
  35. On the other hand, there’s no really groundbreaking engineering needed. This isn’t an EM Drive or something. The time frame, and pax reticence in function of the precise safety statistics, are the real unknowns. Orbit and back 50 times is a when, not if.

  36. I can think of few things that would be an easier target than a descending Starship.

  37. Why? Boeing and Airbus are nowhere in the regional jet market duopoly of Bombardier-Embraer. It is not a foregone conclusion that Boeing and Airbus will get their slice of this market. Maybe it ends up being SpaceX/Blue Origin.

  38. Maybe you end up with small electric VTOLs that fly you to/from the launch sites at sea into the city?

    It is an exaggeration to say it is 30 minutes travel time. The travel time interval that matters is door-to-door travel time, as well as scheduling flexibility (flights per day).

    So, 30 minutes to fly out to the launch site, some sort of check-in process, say 1h, flight time of 30 minutes, 1h to disembark and retrieve luggage (guessing no cabin luggage with the gs this will be pulling), 30 minutes to fly into town. So 3.5h travel time city-center to city-center. Better than a 20h flight (+2h-3h in airports at either end, plus travel time to/from airports), but not as dramatic as implied by 15-30 minute flight time.

    I have to wonder what kind of forces a passenger would experience. I imagine a suborbital flight could use more fuel and a less efficient trajectory to limit the g forces on ascent and landing. Astronauts are screened for physical fitness and no health problems. Commercial point-to-point travel will need to be moderate enough to be broadly accessible to most able-bodied adults (the 80 yo grannies I see being wheeled onto flights will probably never be suitable). Same with infants and young children. Will passengers have to wear flight suits? I imagine that requirement can be worked around at the expense of some safety.

  39. I doubt he would want this because that hampers the civilian potential. Any country not enamored with the US might mistake a civilian launch for a military one with little pieces of rich-guy jerky cluttering the air soon after.

  40. 20 minute flight time, 1 hour on the sea.
    You won’t see these sea platforms anywhere near big cities, if you see them at all.

    We haven’t seen what bad sea conditions will do to all that stuff. Planes can fly in relatively bad weather. While i have no doubt that spaceX can fly their rocket everywhere, can they land them everywhere and in any weather?

    Also, noise is going to be a huge issue no matter what.

  41. Time for a back-of-napkin on safety:

    The US is currently at 0.2 deaths / 10 billion aviation passenger-miles.

    It’s hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison between spaceflight and air travel, because the risks on-orbit are wildly different from those of launch and EDL. To normalize that, I’m going to assume that each astronaut that ever went to space is worth 25,000 passenger-miles (i.e., one orbit). (Update: This seems like the best way to get a suborbital risk.)

    There have been about 570 people launched to space. Using my “one orbit per passenger” metric, that’s 0.00143 10-billion passenger miles. Of those, 18 have died.

    That’s 12,587 deaths / 10 billion passenger-miles.

    So we’re off by 4-5 orders of magnitude.

    That’s a gap that can be closed. Aviation safety has improved by 2-3 orders of magnitude since 1970, and the last 50 years have been a relatively mature aviation industry. But I’d be surprised to see suborbital get anywhere near aviation safety in less than 20 years.

  42. No these are very big rockets. 1,000 people per flight is not unrealistic.

    There is nothing stopping diseases from traveling right now. Roughly 500,000 people in the air at any given moment.

  43. I dunno….I’ve seen too many SpaceX rockets blow up on landing. I may have issues. But what a fantastic way to execute rich people; haha… other news 1000 dead…

  44. I don’t think we will see this until at least 2026. And it could be a lot longer if it is not SpaceX.

  45. They knew by 1990 that Concord was damaging the ozone layer. So not unpredictable that it would cease operation. And there were the sonic booms.

    As to faster replacement. Aluminum is limited to sub Mach 3. That means probably titanium or carbon fiber. Though SpaceX is showing us that good old stainless is not too shabby. But airplane makers were not considering stainless or carbon fiber. That left titanium which was far too expensive. That is why the US program (Boeing 2707) collapsed in 1971. We promised Mach 3…which was not viable with aluminum.

    And we already had a regressive space program just using the Space Shuttle.

    I wasn’t expecting anything super fast, through the air anyway when dreaming about the future in 1995 about 2020. I just thought highspeed through the atmosphere was too inefficient.

    I have been hoping for maglev vactrains since 1987, when I thought of it. Only to quickly find out that the idea was not new. Later I found out it was VERY old like 1904.
    Though the maglev part was by Robert Salter of RAND, I think.

    And for aircraft, I was thinking there could be a return of the seaplane in the form of very large ekranoplans capable of transporting upwards of 5,000 people a flight at low cost. Going bigger means more clearance and ability to safely go over higher ocean waves.

    I still think that approach is viable though we are talking lower speeds probably less than 500 mph. Now I have other ideas.

  46. Just think of the possibilities! With the help of just a few NGO’s, we can have Ebola in every continent! It’s like dream come true for the left…
    Seriously, it reminds me of the SST. I hope it lasts longer. Point to point is really efficent when it comes to New York to Sidney or Paris to LA.

    I am sure they mean 1000 per day, not 1000 people per ship. Yes?

  47. Likely to be adopted by military first. Imagine rapid troop deployments and resupply of troops.

  48. This is essentially Philip Bono’s suborbital concept. If its truly doable (which I have my doubts), there is no question that Boeing and Airbus will develop their own versions as well.

  49. With these sorts of times, more efficient boarding becomes an even higher priority. Maybe have the passengers board racks, which are then loaded and unloaded as units.

  50. I don’t mind being crammed into a sardine can for 20 minutes, or even an hour. It’s being crammed into a sardine can for 14 hours that gives me trouble.

  51. Who could have forseen Concorde being left to rot rather than upgraded or replaced though? Especially right in the wake of the next big British/French cooperation project that was the Channel Tunnel. Concorde’s hypothetical replacement was a futurist’s wet dream.

  52. I would totally pay $500 for a ticket from Australia to China (my usual flight).

    Cheaper and 12 hours faster, what’s not to like?

    Sure it might be as comfortable as downhilling on a mountain bike, falling off, and breaking a couple of ribs… but seeing as I do that for entertainment I don’t see the problem.

  53. “Probably needs a restraint mechanism like Disney’s Space Mountain roller coaster”

    Please keep your arms and legs inside the Starship at all times until the rocket stops falling around the planet…

  54. A lot of people feel like that about airplanes and even cruise ships. But you are in the minority.

  55. No thank you, I’ll pass on that if you don’t mind. Isn’t it bad enough that with air travel now that they cram you in a sardine can??? Now they want to strap you on a rocket!

  56. Back in 1995 when I made the Sorb claim at Idea Futures, I should have set the judge date a few years later:

    Claim Sorb – Suborbital transport dominates

    The Claim

    Suborbital transportation will exceed high-mach air transportation by the year 2020. “Suborbital” means any high-mach, non-orbital flight where the majority of the distance is covered without benefit of locally available gasses as the primary propulsion reaction mass. “High-mach” means the majority of the distance is covered at a speed of mach 2.5 or greater. “Non-orbital” means the total flight path distance is less than the circumfrence of the earth. “Locally available” excludes gasses that have been stored within the vehicle for more than 3 minutes. The metric for comparison will include passenger, luggage and cargo ton-miles over the entirety of the year 2020 as published in standard industry surveys.

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