I like how SpaceX innovates, but I think this is a "too soon", bad product idea because it will be too expensive at first, and supersonic jets would be a better competitor.
Although I have to admit I really like the disruptive way of "showing the way to the future" communication ad. But to be frank, I wonder if people at SpaceX are not full of zeal sometimes. One bigger problem for SpaceX might be "how to sell space to consumers, or make money with space?".
Maybe that is the reason NASA existed as a government agency, because there is no real, direct ROE with space exploration. In the end SpaceX might make money with wealthy people who can afford going to mars or the moon, but I doubt that many people would be interested if there is no financial gain (or maybe for the hell of it). Innovation from NASA research was shared or benefited the military.
I want SpaceX to endure and succeed but I really wonder about the money/market sides of it. It requires a lot of vision, which goes beyond the reality of capitalism.
Concorde shaved about three hours off the trip between NYC and Paris or London. It burned ungodly amounts of fuel (two tons of fuel just taxiing to the runway), cost a ton, didn't have enough range for Pacific routes, couldn't fly transcontinental routes because of the sonic boom, and after all of that it only saved a few hours.
Of course, Concorde is old technology and it could be done a lot better now. But you'd still be saving a limited amount of time (roughly a factor of 2), burn more fuel, and be more limited in range compared to a traditional airliner.
BFR would have enough range to connect any two points on Earth. It would have no restrictions on overflight (although it would most definitely have restrictions on where it could launch and land). And it would save 10-20 hours over a direct subsonic flight.
Cost? Well, I don't know. Elon says it'll be pretty cheap, but I'm skeptical. However, given how much more capable it would be than a supersonic airliner, it might be worth a much greater cost. Part of the problem with Concorde is that it just didn't save that much time.
In principle yes a supersonic airliner could be cheaper, but the noise pollution issue alone is one of those external factors that is a real killer. Now it’s quite possible this use of the BFR might run into issues like that of its own, but they’re likely to be different issues at least.
Not ear popping kind of loud, but VERY loud nonetheless, and you feel it too if you’re close enough. (Really recommend a viewing at the LC39 observation gantry, it’s awesome!) I was watching that video and kept thinking that platform isn’t far enough from inhabited land that people won’t go apeshit over how loud it is.
I want this future, and boy do I want to see a rocket launch again, but waking up to that nice sound of rocket fuel burning at 6.30am? Yeah, maybe no. :o)
Also the light – a launch is very bright! During the daytime this wouldn't be such a big deal I guess, but a dawn/dusk/night launch would be very noticeable, even from 10 miles out.
However, if you're designing for space and can allocate the R&D costs to space business units, you end up potentially developing something that has better marginal costs to transport people across the earth.
Basically, the R&D of building this is astronomically higher than the supersonic jet. But the (theoretical) promise is the marginal cost isn't that different. However, if you're already doing the R&D for other purposes, then you find yourself owning a system that's (potentially) better for global travel.
They're currently unavailable at any price. If you make a really wild speculation based on taking the price of the most expensive airliner Airbus or Boeing sells and extrapolating from there how much a supersonic one might cost, it's not obvious that the airliner is cheaper.
I'd actually worry about crowding skies above the planet. A rocket flying with suborbital speed has arguably less means to avoid collision if the possibility is detected in flight. Also rockets will need to pass heights where lots of satellites, orbital debris and even charged particles can present some danger to flying objects.
Also, you can design flight paths so they never intersect unlike aircraft that need to deal with weather.
By a hell of a lot – concorde is an order of magnitude slower than the spacex solution claims to be, only ~2000km/h
Land on Mars is for the taking at the moment. What people will pay to live there is not known yet, but will be in the millions for some.