With the winning team reaching a top speed of 201 m.p.h. earlier this week for its student Hyperloop competition, Elon Musk and SpaceX — his Los Angeles-based rocket company — wanted to give their own shuttle a spin. And boy, did they ever.
A “pusher pod” designed by Tesla — Musk’s popular electric car company — helped give the students a starting boost during the competition.
Then Musk unleashed the Tesla pusher pod on its own, and shared on Instagram that it hit 220 m.p.h. — making it the fastest Hyperloop trial to date. “Kind of like racing with a tugboat,” he said in his post, along with an emoji to express that things got a bit lit.
We took the SpaceX/Tesla Hyperloop pusher pod for a spin by itself a few days ago to see what it could do when not pushing student pods (some need a push to get going, e.g. passive maglev). Got up to 355 km/h (220 mph) before things started ????. Kind of like racing with a tugboat. Maybe able get past 500 km/h (about half speed of sound) next month with a few tweaks or maybe tiny pieces …
For the uninitiated, the Hyperloop idea first came to fruition about five years ago, with Musk looking for a quicker way to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The Hyperloop uses shuttle pods to shoot passengers through tubes at rapid speeds, and the entrepreneur wants to eventually clear 700 m.p.h.
The 220-mph benchmark is another step in the evolution of the Hyperloop, but it isn’t likely to last long. Musk said with a “few tweaks” they could jet past the 300 m.p.h. barrier as soon as next month. Using a track longer than the 0.75 mile strip SpaceX has for testing would also give it a better chance of blowing past 220 m.p.h.
At the same time, others are jumping into the budding Hyperloop industry. Hyperloop One, an LA-based startup not affiliated with Musk, went for its first test run back in May, and jumped to 192 mph earlier this month.