The Hyperloop would be able to transport a person from Los Angeles to San Francisco — a distance of more than 300 miles — in only 30 minutes. Musk previously described the system a cross between a “Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table.”
The Hyperloop is similar to “vacuum tube train” ideas that were proposed during the 1970s. By evacuating all the air from a tube and using magnets to levitate a capsule, researchers believed they could create an extremely fast transportation system.
But Musk said vacuum tubes or tunnels were too difficult to maintain. Any small leak would disrupt the system. Rather than create a complete vacuum, the air pressure in the Hyperloop would be dropped down to about 1/6 the pressure of the atmosphere on Mars. The design would allow for a substantial reduction in air resistance, without the hardships and costs of maintaining a complete vacuum.
Musk said disappointment in California’s proposed high-speed rail system motivated him to develop a revolutionary new transportation system.
“The underlying motive for a statewide mass transit system is a good one,” Musk explained in his 57-page paper on the project. “It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but obviously only if it is actually better than flying or driving. The train in question would be both slower, more expensive to operate (if unsubsidized) and less safe by two orders of magnitude than flying, so why would anyone use it? If we are to make a massive investment in a new transportation system, then the return should by rights be equally massive.”
At least one member of Congress thinks the Hyperloop is an idea worth looking into. Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California tweeted on Monday: “Hyper-speed rail? @elonmusk of #Fremont’s @TeslaMotors thinks he can get you from SF to LA on a solar-powered #HyperLoop. Let’s learn more!”
Musk has emphasized that the Hyperloop design is currently in the alpha stage of development. He has encouraged anyone with suggestions or corrections to email his team.
Listen to Elon Musk explain the Hyperloop, courtesy of Bloomberg News, below:
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010,
and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs
of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University.
Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.