Basic modes of transportation have not changed much in the last half-century. Sure, planes are bigger, cars are more fuel efficient and have more features/gadgets, and trains can go faster. But harnessing space travel could make it possible to move between any two cities in the world in two hours:
Michiel Mol, 42, a Dutchman who co-owns the Force India Formula One team and made his fortune in computer software, said over the weekend, “Being able to travel from London to Sydney in an hour and 45 minutes, that is the future. It is also the reason why KLM joined our firm [Space Expedition Curacao, or SXC] as a partner.”…Mol intends to follow [Sir Richard Branson] in early 2014 and says he has already sold 35 tickets at $93,000 for flights from the Caribbean island of Curacao. Regulatory approval is still under negotiation…Passengers, who will be entitled to call themselves astronauts if they reach an altitude of 62 miles (100km), will be required to pass physical tests which he says are no more stringent than would be expected of an air steward. The first generation spaceship will travel at 2,200mph (3,540kph), but the second generation will need to reach a velocity of 13,750mph (22,100kph) to achieve the desired orbit…“Flying from London to Barcelona would still take an hour or so while London to Tokyo would be about one hour and 30 minutes and London to Sydney, one hour and 45 minutes. “
This sounds like something different than just space tourism where wealthy people take off, float weightless for a short while, snap some pictures of the earth while in a quick orbit, and then descend. This could be the basis for a new transportation system that makes traveling from New York to China just like a drive from Chicago to Milwaukee. It would take some time to set up a viable system, to put the infrastructure together, but this would be a big step forward from the Dreamliner and high-speed rail.
Is this the physical answer to the “instant” connectedness of the Internet? Currently, it still takes a decent amount of time to travel between major cities but it is still valuable for business, politics, and deeper relationships.
Beyond space commuting, what could be quicker? A mass-produced flying car? Teleporting?