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Virgin Hyperloop One CTO on When You Can Ride: "Years... Not Decades" 

Virgin One says it's improved upon the designs etched out in the famous Musk white paper. 

While the credit for penning the 2013 hyperloop white paper that captured the public imagination goes to Elon Musk, credit for developing the first full scale test track and large-scale feasibility studies in the U.S. goes to Virgin Hyperloop One. In the above video exclusive to Inverse, CTO and co-founder Josh Giegel says consumers will be able to ride working hyperloops within the next few years.

“We’re talking mid 2020s,” he says, talking about when hyperloop concepts like Virgin One’s Devloop will be passenger-ready. “We’re talking about years, and we’re not talking about decades.”

Since it launched in 2014 as Hyperloop One — the company re-named as Virgin Hyperloop One in 2017 — it’s emerged as one of the likeliest front-runners in the race to develop a fully operational hyperloop, which, as you’ve probably heard, promise to combine the benefits of ground travel with plane-like speeds (and save money, to boot). In addition to the four feasibility studies in the U.S., the company has plans to break ground on what it says will be the first operational hyperloop in India, connecting Mumbai with the inland city of Pune. If successful, the travel time between the two cities will be reduced from 2.5-3 hours to under 30 minutes.

Virgin Hyperloop One plans to break ground on their first operational hyperloop tunnel later this year. 

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Who Will Be the First to Ride a Working Hyperloop?

Virgin Hyperloop One differs from the Loop being developed by Musk’s The Boring Company in a few key respects. It’s a little farther along, with the company having launched two years earlier than The Boring Company (Musk’s original paper was an open-source call-to-action for other projects). Devloop, its test tunnel in Las Vegas was the first operational tunnel and completed in only five months of construction in 2017 and runs about 500 meters, or 1,640 feet.

It also takes a slightly different direction than what Musk first outlined in his white paper. Musk’s vision called for using air bearings — almost like air-like cushions — to make the hyperloop pods levitate atop the tracks. In the video Giegel explains that while testing air bearings, they identified two key problems that made them unworkable.

“In the white paper they talked about air bearings, we tested them, they have a very large energy consumption, and addition they ride very, very close to the surface,” he said. “We built our own magnetic levitation system.”

Magnetic levitation isn’t all that uncommon in the rail industry, Japanese urban planners first began experimenting with concepts in the late 1960s. But these concepts haven’t always taken off because they’re incredibly costly to build and maintain. The U.S. Federal Railroad administration estimates that laying mag-lev tracks would cost close to $100 million a mile, The Guardian reports. Giegel says, however, that the new system Virgin Hyperloop One has developed for installing mag-lev tracks is significantly cheaper, more energy efficient, and can enable much higher speeds.

Media via Hyperloop

SpaceX Mars City: Here’s How Much Elon Musk's Dream Would Cost

Elon Musk has placed a figure on the scheme that's out-of-this-world.

How much would it cost to build a city on Mars? According to Elon Musk over the weekend, it could be the most expensive construction project in human history — and cost up to an eighth of the value of the entire global economy.

The SpaceX CEO’s vision includes not only sending the first humans to Mars, but to use that mission as a starting point to build a permanent settlement. Assuming all goes to plan, Musk believes that a self-sustaining city could take shape as early as 2050.

Tesla Just Enabled a Clean Energy ‘Virtual Power Plant’ in 2 States

The Powerwall is spreading itself out.

Tesla has helped to create a new “virtual power plant” in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, after a new National Grid program went live Thursday. The offer enables owners of the Powerwall home battery to sell their energy back to the grid at peak demand times, which means utility firms don’t need to fire up fossil fuels to meet demand.

SpaceX’s First Astronauts Train Up for Space, but Crew Dragon Faces Delays

"Houston, do we have a problem?"

SpaceX and NASA have been gearing up for a landmark event: the first American astronauts to enter space aboard a commercial craft. Unfortunately, it may take a while to make history.

Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley prepared for the big moment at a recent training event at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The event, detailed by NASA in a Thursday blog post, saw the pair run through the exact procedures expected on the first manned launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. The “Demo-2” test flight will follow the “Demo-1” mission held in March, an unmanned launch of the Crew Dragon capsule that sent 400 pounds of cargo into space.

SpaceX Starship: Elon Musk’s Plan to Fly Around the Moon Is Taking Shape

The stainless steel juggernaut is set to fly soon.

Slowly but surely, Elon Musk’s plan to send a human around the moon is taking shape. New details shared on Wednesday explain how his firm SpaceX plans to use its existing test rocket to build the first iteration of its moon-bound vehicle, painting a picture of how the next few years may look.