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Hyperloop One Pod
Workers hoist Hyperloop One’s prototype Pod shell at the DevLoop test track in Nevada. (Hyperloop One Photo)

Hyperloop One showed off the results of its first full-system test of a magnetically levitating rail vehicle in a vacuum environment, and said its next round of testing will target speeds of 250 mph.

The crucial test for Phase 1 of Hyperloop One’s development program took place back on May 12 at its 500-meter-long DevLoop test track in the Nevada desert, but the results were reported just today.

In a news release, Hyperloop One said the test vehicle coasted above the first portion of the track for 5.3 seconds, thanks to magnetic levitation. The car achieved peak acceleration of 2 G’s and Phase 1’s target speed of 70 mph, powered by the company’s proprietary linear electric motor.

“Hyperloop One has accomplished what no one has done before by successfully testing the first full-scale Hyperloop system. By achieving full vacuum, we essentially invented our own sky in a tube, as if you’re flying at 200,000 feet in the air,” said Shervin Pishevar, Hyperloop One’s co-founder and executive chairman. “For the first time in over 100 years, a new mode of transportation has been introduced. Hyperloop is real, and it’s here now.”

In a video report on the test, Pishevar said “our Kitty Hawk moment has happened.”

Hyperloop One also showed off a prototype for the Pod structure that will house passengers and cargo during trips in the vacuum tubes. The 28-foot-long shell is made of structural aluminum and lightweight carbon fiber.

Phase 2 testing will send the integrated Pod down a longer stretch of track at speeds ranging up to 250 mph, Hyperloop One said.

The long-range goal is to enable city-to-city travel at near-supersonic speeds, through above-ground or underground tubes. The Hyperloop concept was dreamed up in 2013 by Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, but Musk has no relationship with Hyperloop One or other commercial ventures.

Hyperloop One says it has secured more than $160 million in financing for development, and is aiming to begin operations in the United Arab Emirates by as early as 2020. A competing venture, known as Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, or HTT, is also targeting 2020 for commercial service.

A Seattle-area venture called Pacific Hyperloop is taking part in a global competition sponsored by Hyperloop One to promote regional routes. Pacific Hyperloop says its system could cut the travel time between Seattle and Portland to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, a student-led Hyperloop team at the University of Washington is gearing up to compete in the second phase of SpaceX’s pod-race competition. UW Hyperloop qualified as one of two dozen university-level competitors in the Aug. 25-27 race-off after January’s Phase 1 contest at SpaceX’s test track in Hawthorne, Calif.

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