After seeing recent successes with the SN5 prototype, powered with very inexpensive LNG, designed to carry 100+ people, is this ... an airliner?

A suborbital Starship could make trans Atlantic and Pacific flights in a matter of minutes.

Suborbital flights require far less energy than orbital (or extra orbital), and would reach their destinations more than 10x faster than subsonic airliners.

Earth routes tend to have more volume than lunar or Martian ones.

Is this application a viable possibility, based on travel time (turnaround), ticket price, and fuel cost?

  • $\begingroup$ Probably no way with current regulations. $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Aug 22, 2020 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, yes, regulations. We'll have to check in with the heliports, and review Class airspace rules. $\endgroup$ Aug 22, 2020 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ Suggest you read this paper: isulibrary.isunet.edu/doc_num.php?explnum_id=95 Great overview of suborbital commercial transportation issues & prospects. There's a whole chapter on regulation. $\endgroup$ Aug 22, 2020 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ I just want to make clear that the user who asked the question is not me. There might be suspicions because I asked a similar question. $\endgroup$
    – Giovanni
    Aug 22, 2020 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ Elon Musk has personally stated multiple times (on Twitter as well as in live presentations) that Earth-to-Earth capability (E2E) is possible and even a legitimate use case of Starship. Interestingly, Starship may not require the Superheavy booster for E2E because Starship is capable of suborbital flight on its own. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Aug 22, 2020 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


This is something SpaceX is actively planning. Elon Musk unveiled plans to use Starship for hypersonic passenger transport on Earth all the way back in September 2017, during his "Making Life Multiplanetary" presentation at the International Astronautical Congress. SpaceX even released a promotional video on the concept.

More recently in June 2020, Elon confirmed that Earth-to-Earth flights are still part of the plan, stating on Twitter:

There will be many test flights before commercial passengers are carried. First Earth to Earth test flights might be in 2 or 3 years.

Whether or not it's viable as a profitable business is an open question subject to much debate, but Elon Musk certainly seems to think it is. Take that as you will.


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