Travelling from London to New York will take just 29 minutes under plans by Elon Musk to use his Mars spaceship to cut journey times.

The South African-born magnate and SpaceX founder unveiled details at the weekend for a colony on Mars using a giant rocket which his company aims to start building next year.

Musk said the 29,000km/h rocket could also be used to change the future of travel at home, allowing passengers to reach cities anywhere in the world within an hour.

Speaking at the International Astronautical Conference in Adelaide, Musk released a video showing travellers in New York being taken by boat to a floating launch pad before blasting off into space, landing in Shanghai, 12,000km away, just 39 minutes later.


"If building this thing to go to the Moon and Mars then why not go to places on Earth as well?" he said.

Despite a rocky start, SpaceX has carried out 16 consecutive rocket launches and landings successfully, and is the only commercial company to send supplies to the International Space Station.

The Mars rocket will be Space X's largest to date, capable of carrying 100 passengers in 40 cabins as well as a 150-tonne payload. The rocket is reusable and returns to Earth after detaching itself from the shuttle.

"I feel fairly confident we can build the ship and be ready for the launch in five years," said Musk.

Trips from Hong Kong to Singapore would take 22 minutes, compared to four hours by plane. Bangkok to Dubai would take 27 minutes, currently 6.5 hours; London to Cape Town in 34 minutes, otherwise 11.5 hours; and one of the world's longest flights at 16.5 hours, Doha to Auckland, would be cut to 45 minutes. SpaceX said the cost per seat would be about the same as a full-fare economy ticket on an aircraft because the rockets were reusable.

The primary aim of the rocket is to reach the Moon and Mars and establish bases away from the Earth.

SpaceX plans to land at least two cargo ships carrying life-support systems, power and mining equipment on Mars by 2022, with the first manned crews arriving in 2024.

Musk also plans to build a Hyperloop, a transport system intended to carry people through tubes in pressurised cabins at 960km/h.