For thousands of years, no human traveled faster than a horse. Napoleon’s armies were no mobile than Caesar’s. That changed almost overnight with the automobile and then the airplane. Despite that rapid progress, flight times from New York to London have barely budged in 50 years.If anything, it’s slower now that the Concorde is out of service.
That could change in the next 15-20 years with the dawn of space tourism. A spacecraft has to travel about 17,000 miles per hour to stay in orbit. A partnership between KLM airlines and a wealthy Formula One mogul hopes to make first-generational suborbital crafts that can reach 2,200 miles per hour, with an eventual goal of hitting 13,750 miles per hour.
This is good for more than space tourism — a trip from London to Sydney would take an hour and 45 minutes. That’s about the same as a flight today from New York to Chicago.
Caesar and Napoleon would be astonished. Hopefully this venture doesn’t experience the crony capitalism problems that NASA has had with a similar project.