Elon Musk says Hyperloop hit a top speed of 463kmh before exploding

SpaceX test track set to be extended to 10km for next year's competition for even faster speeds

Anthony Cuthbertson
Tuesday 23 July 2019 14:21
Trailer for SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition returning in summer 2019

Elon Musk‘s vision for a futuristic form of transport has achieved a new milestone after a Hyperloop test pod hit a new top speed of 288mph (463kph) before it exploded.

At the 2019 edition of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, student teams launch their prototype pods through a 1.2 km vacuum tube beside the SpaceX headquarters in California.

Unfortunately for the winning team, their pod exploded shortly after reaching the top speed.

“We are happy to announce that we have reached a top speed of 463 km/h today,” the team announced on Twitter.

“Although we lost some parts on the way, we were able to successful finish our run and are proud to be the winners of the 2019 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition.”

When Mr Musk first envisioned the Hyperloop system in a white paper in 2013, he suggested that vacuum tubes could allow transportation pods to hit speeds of up to 1,000kph.

The latest speed record is not only a long way off this prediction, it is also not on the same level as the fastest high-speed trains currently in use in China and elsewhere around the world.

Yet the continued interest in the technology – not least among much larger operations in the form of Virgin Hyperloop One and HyperloopTT – means a faster and more commercially viable form of the Hyperloop may not be a long way off.

After announcing the new speed record on Twitter, Mr Musk revealed that the 2020 edition of the Hyperloop competition will take place in a 10km vacuum tunnel "with a curve".

A longer test track should presumably lead to much faster speeds, while the curve will mean teams will have to prepare a pod that can cope with real-world routes.

No further details were given about the new test track, though HyperloopTT has previously promised to build a 10km track along a stretch of desert separating Aby Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The developers of the track hope for it to be in place in time for the Expo 2020 event due to take place next year.

"This track is important for the future of the Hyperloop," Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of HyperloopTT, previously told The Independent.

"Once the UAE rout is completed, other Hyperloop networks around the world will be quick to follow, as the technology will already be there."

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