SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition

A Hyperloop pod moving in a clear tube across the front range.

Major newsflash, SpaceX shows the Front Range of Colorado in latest information on the Hyperloop! Also, SpaceX will help build a wee test track!

THE OFFICIAL SPACEX HYPERLOOP POD COMPETITION

Since we first unveiled the idea for a new high-speed ground transport system called theHyperloop back in 2013, there has been a tremendous amount of interest in the concept. We are excited that a handful of private companies have chosen to pursue this effort.
Neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk is affiliated with any Hyperloop companies. While we are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves, we are interested in helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype.

For this reason, SpaceX is announcing an open competition, geared towards university students and independent engineering teams, to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. To support this competition, SpaceX will construct a one-mile test track adjacent to our Hawthorne, California headquarters. Teams will be able to test their human-scale pods during a competition weekend at the track, currently targeted for June 2016. The knowledge gained here will continue to be open-sourced.

Break a pod!

If you are interested in participating in the Design or Build competitions, please complete the form below.

All submissions must be received no later than 5pm PDT on Sept. 15, 2015.

Download the full SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition guidelines here.

The New York Times has more information:

SpaceX, Mr. Musk’s rocket launch company, has announced a competition to design passenger vehicles for the Hyperloop, a proposed high-speed ground transport system.

The competition is intended to appeal to both university students and independent engineering teams, according to SpaceX documents provided to The New York Times.

SpaceX also plans to construct a one-mile test track adjacent to its headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., which will be used as a testing and competition area for contestants, with a planned start date of June 2016.

Elon Musk Discusses Hyperloop at MIT

 MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department's 2014 Centennial Celebration
MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department’s 2014 Centennial Celebration

The MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium was where Elon Musk answered a question on the Hyperloop. The question was prompted by Elliot Owen, who built a working model of the hyperloop tube and pods (that can be seen below). The question can be seen in the link below, at the 01:02:00 mark:

http://webcast.amps.ms.mit.edu/fall2014/AeroAstro/index-Fri-PM.html

Here are some key points answered by Elon;

  • He was asked by on whether temperature of the Hyperloop tube would be too high. Elon responded that the diameter of the hyperloop tube would be twice the diameter of the hyperloop pod, to allow air to flow around the pod. You dont want a tight fit.
  • Inner part of the hyperloop tube must be smooth. So you might even have to run a grinder in the inside of the tube to smooth it out.
  • The air-ski’s are spring when the pod is moving through the tube.
  • Expansion of the tube, due to thermal differences, must happen at the terminals. Each pylon must also be allowed to stretch, and you can’t hard constrain it at the pylons.

So much more in the interview and questions, so just watch the whole interview. Below are Elliot Owen’s working model of the hyperloop & presentation.

What Costs More than the Colorado Hyperloop? Lots of things!

First, Colorado Hyperloop has a new Facebook Page! It can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/coloradohyperloop 

There is a great tumblr on what costs more than space exploration. The writers of the blog first pick a subject:

It’s impossible to say exactly how big the economic impact of the 2014 California Drought will be, but what is certain that it will be really, really expensive.

Then they compaire it to some type of space exploration:

Approximately eight days from now, the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory (GPM, for short) will launch on board an H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.

With that they contrast the difference of the two costs and how space exploration can minimize the cost of the chosen subject. I believe it is pretty effective.

However, since the hyperloop isn’t built yet, it is pretty hard to compare prices. But here is a comparison that can be found here by Brad Plumer:

And here’s the best part: Musk claims a Hyperloop would be ridiculously cheap, with tubes from San Francisco to Los Angeles costing just $6 billion or $7.5 billion (depending on whether the pods could transport cars). That’s just one-tenth the cost of California’s tumultuous high-speed rail project.

What’s more, even if the price tag did end up 200 percent higher than what Musk is promising, that might be still a bargain.
This is more just a general note of caution. Early cost estimates for big new transportation projects are almost always wrong — and, at least if history is anything to go by, that’s not something that better technology will necessarily solve.