Elon Musk’s New Flight of Fancy: New York to China in 39 Minutes

Imagine riding a rocket from New York City to Shanghai in only 39 minutes!

If you believe Elon Musk, it’s possible … and not too far away.

Musk founded SpaceX, Tesla (TSLA) and a handful of other companies he’s running in his spare time.

He has a history of making what seem like crazy, random sci-fi predictions. They are fun and thought-provoking.

They’re also viable. And that is why investors should pay attention.

Now, it won’t be easy to transport fans from a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden to happy hour in coastal China in the same time it takes to get a pizza delivered.

But Musk is eager to overcome some these kinds of big technical challenges so he can start selling tickets on a Shanghai red-eye.

Musk has a plan. He wants to build a rocket. A really big effin’ rocket.

Tongue planted firmly in cheek, that is what he’s calling it: “BFR.” Seriously.

This BFR will be 10-times larger than current spacecraft in the SpaceX fleet. It will need to be.

That’s because BFR must justify its cost by doing a lot more than flying very-trusting humans over 7,370 miles at nearly 22-times the speed of sound.

The rocket will also launch satellites and perform interplanetary odd jobs, like help with building a colony on Mars.

Then there is the elephant in the room. Pedal to the metal, BFR will be traveling at 16,700 m.p.h.

So, Musk says, passengers may experience gravitational forces two- to three-times their body weight during ascent. And they may experience weightlessness during descent.

No worries, Musk claims. It will be no worse than a mild to moderate amusement park ride.

An artist’s rendering of BFR. Note that the little dot by the delta wing  shows a person to scale with the craft. The payload area would carry hundreds of passengers. Source: SpaceX.


At this point, it would be easy to dismiss all of this as Musk’s wishful thinking. That is a mistake. And I will tell you why.

When Musk talked about building a fully electric car with a network of supercharging stations, experts said it would never happen.

Building cars is complex, they scoffed, let alone one with an untested and unproven new propulsion system.

OK, Tesla has suffered logistical hiccups while coordinating hundreds of parts suppliers. But, it’s still growing. And, nobody would argue that it succeeded in bringing a top-notch electric vehicle to market.

When Musk proposed launching reusable rockets that could return safely to Earth, experts scoffed again. The engineering was too complex, they warned.

Today, SpaceX rockets routinely launch, deliver their payload and return to the launch pad. The accuracy is startling.

When Musk claimed it was possible to build a high-speed transport system that would reduce travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco to 30 minutes, experts claimed it was just Elon being Elon. Today, several teams have proven Hyperloop is not only possible, it makes business sense.

One of Musk’s greatest attributes is that he does not believe in the impossible. He’s like Morpheus in “The Matrix,” who believes it’s possible to bend the rules of reality because there is no reality. It’s just a construct.

This is something Musk actually believes, too. On several occasions, he has told interviewers how the world we see is not real. Humans are simply characters in some elaborate virtual-reality construct. And he has the math to prove it.

Investors are wise to adopt his mindset, at least partially. Fueled by exponential advances in the progression of information technology, this truly is a new era of invention. If makers can dream it, the tools are available to make it happen.

This means new, life-extending and life-enhancing technologies are coming. It means our gadgets are just beginning to grow smarter. The future will be unimaginable. And in the near term, we will get the self-driving cars and ultra-intelligent robots we have been promised.

Investors should begin investing in the companies that will build these technologies now. When others understand what is really possible, it will be too late.

And if we are really lucky, ordering a pizza in New York City for pickup in China is coming, too.

Best wishes,

Jon Markman


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Comments 11

  1. Joe October 6, 2017

    The only thing Musk has accomplished is making a few very expensive electric cars while losing millions of dollars and fleecing the taxpayer. Quit shilling for this fraud.


    • Marina H. October 9, 2017

      So very true. Courtesy of the U.S.Gov’t ! We, The People, don’t have any say how & where our hard earned taxed money is allocated & spent.


  2. James October 6, 2017

    Electric cars are the future of transport. Forget about automatic vehicle identification, electronic toll charging, single occupancy vehicles or dual occupancy vehicles, the future isn’t gasoline but green and electric, we are living in a technological revolution. Elon Musk is right when he says space travel can bring LA closer to shanghai. We live in interesting times. Space travel between continents is only the start. Human beings now have their own personal TVs in the the form of mobile phones with internet access. Deliveroo and Uber are just the start of this consumer choice generation that we live in. All aided by the internet and mobile phones. The next great invention is already being thought off.


  3. Jaro Barvik October 7, 2017

    Interesting that we never learn how many kWh does it take to charge Elon’s EV for 200 milles! When Volt was introduced it take me about 10 ph. calls to learn that it tool 35 kWh to charge battery for measly 28 miles. So that in 11c/ kWh was $3.85 for 28 miles, this is not much economical in my textbook. Any conversion of energy have loses; anybody witnessed supercharging EV? I have seen Tesla spider at “free” charger at Meier and from the front grid was going huge amount of hot air. Those facts are conveniently omitted. Lastly do you know that every kWh is converted about 2lb of coal?


    • Shaun MacKenzie October 9, 2017

      People are talking about the impacts to the grid Jaro, but it is a good point. What goes into electric cars is largely a matter of how that electricity is produced. The last time I checked, it is still more efficient to charge a battery from coal power than run a gasoline or diesel powered engine. Currently coal power accounts for 30.4% of US electrical utilities in 2016. Once more vehicles charge via the grid there will need to be changes to the grid to accommodate these increased demands, which is another investing opportunity if you know where to look.


      • Jaro October 12, 2017

        Shaun, I am aware about differences of efficiency of gasoline and electric motor. It is that conversion fuel to burn to produce electricity and then convert it into the battery where the losses are. So if 1 gal. of gasoline get me 30 miles, how many kWh that gallon would produce and how much real battery power would be available for how many miles?
        I know that technology is better now than example Chevy Volt I describe but I can guarantee you that 1gal of fuel will not produce 35kWh. I was trying to find out how many kWh Elon’s car need for 200 miles of operation but nowhere to get those data. Do you have those?


      • ronthekannuck October 16, 2017

        Hi Shaun,
        Not only are there losses in conversion of 2 pounds of Coal into a KW Hr of electricity, there are also losses
        when the battery is discharged to turn the wheels of an electric car or any other device..
        if you think about it, there is nothing Green about the Electric Car because production of the battery
        adds as much pollution to the environment as putting 60 Thousand miles on the odometer.

        Notice that the government was so nervous about the loss of Tax revenue if Gasoline consumption was
        reduced, that every opportunity was welcomed to raise electricity rates.. Next, if electric cars continue
        to gain in popularity, you will see tolls on ALL roads to further recoup the Gas Tax..


    • ronthekannuck October 16, 2017

      Hi Jaro,
      You are speaking the truth, but it is worse than 11 cents per KW HR when you consider what is being paid to alternative electricity suppliers for being ready to add power at peak times in consumption.. Rates as high as
      20 to 30 Cents are paid under contracts, for the capacity of the Generating station even when they are
      NOT putting out power…

      All this… to create another business and another investment to replace those which have left the Country and help to keep the Stock Market from disappearing forever..
      Is this the ultimate payback for the collapse of Enron, which was also another shell game, of buying and selling energy capacity every time the consumption changed in areas where Brownouts were occurring?
      All this is possible since the advent of the computer which allowed micro-management of billions of bits of data…
      Now, the planning that was supposed to ensure a reliable power system has been replaced by nothing more
      than making a buck by measuring the changes in consumption and overcharging consumers for the frivolous
      activity… Is this what happens when Power companies are deregulated and made “Competitive” ?
      This reminds me of putting Hamsters on a treadmill and then having to feed them for doing nothing more than
      turning the wheels and measuring their activity.

      I also have an issue with Spacex sending Intercontinental passenger rockets halfway around the globe in 35 minutes.. Do we really need to have these rockets observed and re-engineered when they land in China?
      How long would it take before that industry was also lost to Asian manufacturing?


    • ronthekannuck October 16, 2017

      Hi Jaro,

      It appears that your numbers are saying that it would take 70 pounds of Coal to power a car to drive 28 miles
      (35 KWh X 2 pounds of Coal per HWh)
      That sounds like a real reduction in Greenhouse gasses. it would only take a Gallon or two of Gasoline to accomplish
      the same travel distance. (Maybe 13 pounds of Gasoline )


  4. Gary Stoltzenberg October 9, 2017

    This guy has some un-real fantasies and he now has the money to spend thanks to investors. I haven’t seen that many Tesla’s on the road yet to take him so seriously. Has he ever been evaluated?


  5. Ben Dover October 9, 2017

    Keep drinking the Kool Aid!!!! musk has NEVER turned a profit on ANY business he has ever been involved with> Tesla loses billions every year….roughly $25,000 for every car they produce.

    Space X as never shown any financials. NASA could make a reusable rocket….it just isn’t cost effective or safe to do so. The Tesla semi is a joke!!!! The batteries would have to weigh what the payload of a truck could carry!!! Stupid!!! The G forces required to do a ballistic launch with humans would turn us to goo.

    But hey…never let the facts get in the way if a good story.

    Are you being paid by Tesla?