Virgin: After taking owner Richard Branson on the first tourist space flight last month, Virgin Galactic appears to be focusing on new challenges, but on dry land, or not so much.
In an explanatory video posted on YouTube on Monday (23), the company’s transportation technology division is unveiling its hyperloop concept, a freight train project originally launched by Tesla and SpaceX in 2013.
Hyperloop is a mass transport system that uses magnetic rails inside sealed tubes at low pressures, so that, theoretically, small cars or capsules move at high speeds in an environment that offers low air resistance. The idea is to provide a solution that is cheap, economically correct, and with minimal energy costs. The concept resurfaced in 2013, when Elon Musk released a guide on the subject.
Musk’s goal, also Virgin’s rival in aerospace tourism, was to build a hyperloop between the US cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. From then on, several companies, without the participation of the billionaire, organized themselves to make the project viable. So far, however, some have not been able to obtain funding, while others have been working with government agencies to explore new routes.
What will Virgin’s hyperloop project look like?
Founded in 2014, Virgin Hyperloop made its first test trip in November last year with passengers in the Nevada desert, in the USA, actually two company executives, who covered the entire 500-meter runway in 15 seconds, at a speed close to 172 km/h. After testing, the company reviewed some concepts and decided to change the appearance of future capsules.
At first, Virgin engineers turned the magnetically levitated train system (MagLev) upside down: the company’s capsules will not travel over the tracks, but rather hang from them. In addition, each unit will be battery powered rather than wired. According to the company, this inversion of the capsules will represent 10 times more energy efficiency compared to the current model.
Another innovation designed by Virgin Hyperloop is the disconnection of the capsules from each other, so that, even when moving in a caravan, some of them can be diverted to different destinations. The expected speed is 1,07 thousand km/h, which would allow a trip from Rio to São Paulo in 24 minutes, without any kind of emission during the displacement.