Launch pellets

Flying by plane is unpleasant. What is convenient in the abstract – hey, it’s only a 1 hour flight from DC to Toronto – is a headache in reality – 1 hour plus commute plus waiting plus crying babies plus smelly passenger.

Why do we have to wait so long and deal with such crowded conditions with air travel? The problem is that planes are both dangerous and expensive. Dangerous, because post 9/11, large planes can be used as weapons so security has to be tight. Expensive, because planes burn a lot of fuel and require large complicated airports. Having seen Star Trek: Into Darkness a few weekends ago, I’m as keen on transporter travel as anyone. But we’re not quite there yet. Which made me wonder, what comes in between today’s planes and tomorrow’s transporters?

Maybe we will see launch pellets soon. A launch pellet would be an individualized capsule that could comfortably seat (or at least as comfortably as modern planes) one person. Special launchers would project the pellets into the sky at the precise speed, trajectory and rotation to propel the person to her target. It would be like travelling via human cannonball. To make the trip smoother (and correct any launch errors), thrusters could be attached to the pellet.

spacepod2

“This is your Captain speaking… Oh wait… there is no Captain in a launch pellet.”

Sound a bit uncomfortable? Maybe. But think of the possibilities the next time you’re stuck in between Steve Snorer and Cologne Carl on a twenty-hour flight.