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Virgin Hyperloop: Hyperloop floats with passengers for the first time

Last updated on March 9, 2021

Following the successful test with two people on board, Virgin Hyperloop is aiming for regular operation in ten years.

Sara Luchian and Josh Giegel in the capsule of Virgin Hyperloop: only 172 km/h(Picture: Sarah Lawson/Virgin Hyperloop)

For the first time, people have travelled through the tube: The US company Virgin Hyperloop put a Hyperloop capsule with two occupants through the test tube in the Nevada desert. Previously, the system had been tested intensively with empty capsules.

Sara Luchian, head of Passenger Experience, and Josh Giegel, chief technology officer and one of the company’s founders, were the first two to have the pleasure of traveling with the Hyperloop. It was a ride on “the first new means of transportation in more than a century”, Virgin Hyperloop announced.

A capsule with Danish design

Luchian and Giegel were placed in a special capsule built for the passenger tests. XP-2, nicknamed Pegasus, was designed by the Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and has only two seats. Capsules for regular operations are designed to carry a maximum of 28 passengers.

Hyperloop is a high-speed means of transport: The capsule moves in a largely airless tube. Because air resistance and friction are greatly reduced, it should reach a speed of 1,200 km/h.

But Luchian and Giegel were not that fast: In the 500-meter-long test tube, the capsule accelerated to its top speed of 172 km/h in 6.25 seconds. With an unmanned capsule, Virgin Hyperloop already reached just under 387 kilometers per hour three years ago. Before passengers were allowed to board the capsule, the company had already carried out over 400 unmanned test drives.

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The concept had raised SpaceX boss Elon Musk. It is Open Source, which is why several companies are involved in the implementation. Of those, Virgin Hyperloop, formerly Hyperloop One, is the furthest. Competitor Hyperloop TT has built a 320-meter-long test tube in Toulouse and has already created a vacuum in it. It has also already built a capsule, which will float through the tube for the first time this year. Among others Canada, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland.

“When we started in a garage more than six years ago, the goal was simple: to change the way people move”, said Giegel. “Today we have taken a giant step towards fulfilling this dream.” By 2025 the system should be certified, by 2030 Virgin Hyperloop wants to start regular operation.