China wants to build a competitor to Elon Musk's Hyperloop

Hyperloop concept. Illustration credit: HTT/JumpStartFund/Omegabyte.

The Hyperloop was first proposed by a joint team from Tesla and SpaceX, under the command of Elon Musk, about four years ago. It was thought as a reduced-pressure tube in which pressurized capsules ride on air bearings driven by linear induction motors and air compressors. And as almost everything Musk, the idea took over the world with companies and academic teams trying to put the idea to test.

Last July, Hyperloop One successfully completed its second full-system test and reached 192mph with its aluminum and carbon fiber XP-1 prototype pod. And earlier this week, a German university team won SpaceX's Hyperloop competition by reaching a speed of 200mph.

But it seems that the competition is not going to be just between Hyperloop-based projects anymore, as the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) has announced it plans to build a “high-speed flying train”. According to the state-run space contractor, the train will be able to reach speeds of 2,485 miles per hour (4,000 kilometers per hour), over three times the speed of sound.

Similar to the Hyperloop, CASIC's "flying train" will travel through a near-vacuum tube, but instead of riding on air bearings, it will use magnetic levitation. Even though CASIC claims its system is the first in the world designed for supersonic speed, the company's first milestone will be to hit the more modest target of 621mph (1,000 km/h).

Furthermore, CASIC claims it already owns over 200 patents related to the project, which means it won't be built completely from scratch, which may initially speed up the project. Unfortunately, the company has yet to share any time frames as far as delivery is concerned.

While CASIC plans to export the technology to countries that are part of China's "One Belt, One Road" $5 trillion infrastructure spending spree, which amasses over 60 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, it will be interesting to see how well its solution will stack up against Hyperloop in the future.

Source: Quartz

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