MIT Team Wins SpaceX Hyperloop Design Contest

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on January 30 beat more than 100 other rival groups, comprising over 1,000 college students, to clinch the first stage of the SpaceX Hyperloop design competition. And with it, the dream of Elon Musk, the CEO of private spaceflight company SpaceX and electric-car company Tesla Motors, to create a superfast new space transportation system seems to have inched a step closer to reality.

The Hyperloop competition was held at Texas A&M University in College Station over the weekend. The MIT team, which had created a passenger-carrying Hyperloop "pod", would now begin working on a small-scale prototype.

The winning team would build their pods, which would be put to test this summer at the world’s first Hyperloop Test Track, coming up in an area adjoining the SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, headquarters.

The Hyperloop is a high-speed ground transport concept to transport “pods” of up to 30 people through a 12-foot diameter tube at speeds of roughly 700 mph. Musk had made public his vision for the Hyperloop three years ago. The system would use pods, traveling in tubes in a near-vacuum, to transport people between big cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, which are at a distance of around 900 miles (1,500 km) from each other.

"MIT has been involved in so many technological breakthroughs in the past century. It just makes sense we would help advance what might be the future of transportation", team captain Philippe Kirschen, a master's student in aeronautics and astronautics, said in a statement.

Another 24-person UCI team built a scale model of their HyperXite pod (pronounced Hyper Excite) for the contest. The concept uses compressed air to levitate and glide the pod on a track. Powerful magnets would serve as breaks for the 1,067-pound train.