The man behind the idea, Elon Musk, says the solar-powered system will transport passengers in aluminum pods traveling inside steel tubes. The pods will travel at a whopping 800 miles per hour and will have the ability to transport both people and cars.Musk believes the Hyperloop could be constructed for about $6-10 billion dollars, which sounds like a lot but is significantly cheaper than other forms of high speed transport that have been proposed.
It might not be long before people are being whisked from Los Angeles to San Francisco in an underground pipeline akin to the tubes drive-up banks use. The wild idea comes from Elon Musk, who has or has had high stakes in PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Here’s what Musk told PandoDaily:
“How would you like something that never crashed, was immune to weather, that goes three or four times as fast as the bullet trains we have now or about twice the speed of an aircraft, that would get you from downtown L.A. to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes and it would cost you much less than any other type of transportation.”
There’s been a lot of futuristic means of travel proposed in the past — flying cars, hover boards and teleporting, to name a few — but with billionaire backing, this idea seems like it’s actually on track. Get ready for the fifth form of transportation, folks; one that blows planes, trains, automobiles and boats out of the water. Here’s a few reasons why:
It’s solar powered.
It leaves leave as soon as you arrive “so there is no waiting for a specific departure time,” according to Musk.
It’s better than a bullet train: capsules will be propelled as fast as 4,000 miles per hour, but passengers will be exposed to the G-forces of an ordinary car ride.
Musk wants to keep the invention open source, and not apply patents to it.
There are not many electric cars or plug-in hybrids on the road but there may be a good reason for that. Past the sticker shock and into the driver’s seat, summer road trippers wanting to take advantage of their fuel-saving vehicles are having a hard time going very far. Other than in California and the Northwest, plug-in stations are hard to find. One car manufacturer is doing something about it.
“It is very important to address this issue of long-distance travel,” said Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk in a Mercury News article. “When people buy a car, they’re also buying a sense of freedom, the ability to go anywhere they want and not feel fettered.” Musk has a road trip of his own planned for this summer, driving his kids across the country.
Tesla wants their premium electric vehicles to be driven coast to coast and is rolling out a rapid-charging network for its electric cars, tripling the number of stations they now have. That will allow drivers to travel to New York from Los Angeles. Not that a lack of charging stations should keep those cars from making the trip; it will just take longer. Rapid charging stations fuel their cars in about an hour. Plugging into ordinary current requires an overnight charge.Tesla’s plan will add more stations every 80 to 100 miles on heavily used routes such as the corridor between New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. They also hope to improve the technology used for charging so their Model S cars will get three hours of driving time from only 20 minutes of charging. They will eventually install 100 of the stations along U.S. and Canadian highways.
Thinking of an electric car? In this video, a recent Consumer Reports test of Tesla’s Model S brought surprisingly good results:
If all goes according to plan, privately owned, space travel company SpaceX will send an unmanned capsule, launched from its own Falcon rocket, to dock with the International Space Station on April 30. It will be the first time a privately owned spaceship docks with a space station in orbit and it will mark a new era of private, manned space travel.
Under the watchful eye of NASA, the program might quickly get the United States back in space, while being mindful of budgetary concerns.
“NASA‘s International Space Station program, along with our international partners, will take a look at the readiness of both the station and SpaceX for the mission,” NASA officials said, according to an article in Forbes. “If all is go, then SpaceX will be given a green light for an April 30 launch.”
Called the Commercial Crew Development Program, NASA’s goal in a round of grants last year was “to accelerate the availability of U.S. commercial crew transportation capabilities and reduce the gap in American human spaceflight capability. Through this activity, NASA also may be able to spur economic growth as potential new space markets are created,” the space agency said in a press release at the time.The lion’s share of those grants, $92 million, went to Boeing for development of their front-runner CST-100 spacecraft that uses existing materials and technology that is safe and affordable. The CST-100 is planned to carry up to seven people or a combination of people and cargo and is to be compatible with a variety of existing expendable launch vehicles. That vehicle is slated to fly in 2015, following two test flights earlier that year.
SpaceX began work on that concept too. Their version, called Dragon, is slated to fly next month.
The seven-seat Dragon spaceship will be unmanned for April’s operation, but the next goal for SpaceX is to send a crew to the International Space Station so NASA does not have to rely on Russian technology, currently priced at about $400 million per ride. Dragon costs about $115 million.
“My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars – this is very important – so you don’t have to carry the return fuel when you go there,” SpaceX (and PayPal) founder Elon Musk told the BBC.