IF YOU’VE BEEN dying to know what it’s like to ride in a hyperloop at hundreds of miles per hour, watch this video.
Last week, Virgin Hyperloop One, one of the leading companies in the budding industry dedicated to realizing Elon Musk’s vision of flinging people and stuff through tubes in a near-vacuum and at borderline supersonic speeds, set a new speed record: 240 miles per hour.
At its DevLoop track in the Nevada desert, north of Las Vegas, the company’s engineers loaded their 28-foot-long pod into a 1,600-foot-long concrete test tube. The newly developed airlock system maintained the nearly airless environment, which approximated the air pressure you get at 200,000 feet above sea level (the thinner the air, the less resistance to overcome). Thanks to magnetic levitation, the pod hovered above the test track, knocking off another key source of friction—the deadliest enemy of futuristic, high-speed travel.
And then, whoosh.
Within a few seconds, the pod had hit top speed, beating the existing (publicly known) hyperloop speed record, set by Elon Musk this summer at 220 mph. To cap off the good news, the company also announced that Richard Branson is coming aboard as chairman and that it just raised $50 million. (A badly needed cash infusion, according to Axios.) Shervin Pishevar, the company’s co-founder and co-executive chairman, has temporarily left amidst allegations of sexual misconduct.
Of course, a whole lot of work remains to be done before you get to climb into the tube along with the pod, and then there’s no guarantee hyperloop will work on an economic level. But those are concerns for the future—a future that just got a little bit closer.