SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveils plans for Hyperloop

SpaceX

Imagine commuting from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 30 minutes by train. The man who founded Tesla and SpaceX thinks it can be done, and he's laid out the plans for a transport system called Hyperloop.

Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk has released designs for a high-speed train that can travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 35 minutes.

In a statement, Musk said that his disappointment in the plans for California's high-speed rail inspired him to work on a better plan. Musk said on Twitter Monday that he pulled an "all nighter" working on designs for what he has called a "fifth mode of transportation."

A rendering of Hyperloop's tube shown here with a cutaway to reveal passenger capsules.
SpaceX


The Hyperloop Transportation System consists of a capsule that can carry 28 passengers, steel tubes that will carry the capsule in two directions and a propulsion system, which will travel on a custom route. In Musk's example, the ideal route between Los Angeles and San Francisco is along California's I-5. Traveling at 760 miles per hour, Hyperloop would be able to carry 840 passengers per hour.

Musk believes the best way of creating a faster mode of transport is to design a special environment for vehicles to travel.

The design would create a low pressure system inside of the tubes, to create an atmosphere with less dense air -- having one-sixth the pressure of the atmosphere of Mars. Hyperloop's capsules would be supported using a compressed air reservoir and aerodynamic lift.

An electric air compressor fan mounted in the front of a passenger capsule would transfer high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vehicle, relieving air pressure and create a low friction suspension system.

A rendering of a Hyperloop capsule with a cutaway, revealing how passengers would sit.
SpaceX

Musk gives a nod to past research, including American rocketry pioneer Robert Goddard, global think tank Rand Corporation and ET3. There are no current plans for SpaceX to develop Hyperloop. Musk says he is releasing the designs as an open source project in hopes of optimizing the design and bring down costs.

More information about Hyperloop can be found at SpaceX.com/Hyperloop.