1. Lower cost travel into space
2. Easy around the solar system in dramatically reduced trip times
Mature fusion plasmoid space propulsion could enable speeds of up to 3% of lightspeed.
Nuclear fusion / MHD spaceplanes could be developed by 2025 which would enable frequent single stage flights and bring costs down to $20-100/kg.
The first 32 tesla superconducting magnet should be ready by 2012
Superconducting magnets with 50-100 tesla seem possible.
There also improvements being made to the charging process for superconducting magnets.
Iron superconductors could enable magnets with 200 tesla or more.
The stronger superconducting magnets would greatly advance several approaches to nuclear fusion.
Automated air taxi and air mini-buses are technically borderline feasible now and new enabling planes, navigation and automation systems will be developed by 2016.
Suburban Air Vehicles (SAVs) that get well over 200 mpg, cruise at over 120 mph (193 kph), emit less than 60 dBA from 125 feet (38 meters), and have the ability to take off in a distance of under 100 feet (30.5 meters).
Bay Area rapid transit has up to 360,000 riders each day. 180,000 people going to work and then returning from work. An hourly passenger capacity of 15,000 people. There are 43 stations. It cost about $15 billion in todays dollars to build and $580 million in annual expenses.
A 2 acre pocket airport can have 120 flights each hour with 1-4 people in each robotic air vehicle. Assuming an average of 2 people per vehicle and 100 vehicles in an hour. Matching the hourly capacity of BART would require 75 pocket airports and 10,000 vehicles. If the vehicles cost $40,000 then it would cost $400 million for the vehicles. The pocket airports are only 2 acres in size and might cost $8 million each or about $600 million total. Spending $15 billion would be about 1125 pocket airports and 150,000 vehicles. Commuters would be able to 120 mph and not have traffic jams.
UPDATE - I look at the issue of a rollout plan and the CAFE foundation studies of relieving ground congestion and specific locations for pocket airports.
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