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Elon Musk’s Hyperloop to break ground on its first test track

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Transportation is all set to become a reality soon

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Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), a Los Angeles-based startup working to make the supersonic transportation system a reality, announced on Wednesday that it has filed official paperwork with Kings County, California, to start construction of a test track later this year.

The track will be built around Quay Valley, a proposed 75,000-resident solar-powered community halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Hyperloop Transportation says it plans to start off construction in the second quarter of 2016, with the estimated cost of the track said to $100 million. HTT had secured the land in Quay Valley, California in early 2015 with the plan of breaking ground this year.

“After over two and a half years of research and development our team has reached another important milestone. This will be the world’s first passenger-ready Hyperloop system,” said HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn in a statement. “Everyone traveling on California’s I-5 in 2016 will be able to see our activities from the freeway.”

“This will be the world’s first passenger-ready Hyperloop system,” Ahlborn wrote in the release.

HTT is not the only company aiming to have the first passenger-ready Hyperloop. The similarly named Hyperloop Technologies is currently working on two separate test tracks.

The Hyperloop works by propelling people in pods through a tube-like system at speeds that could top 700 miles per hour. This would get passengers from L.A. to San Francisco in less than 30 minutes.

One track, which is being built in North Las Vegas, Nevada, is unenclosed and shorter than the proposed full scale system. Testing is slated to take place during the first quarter of this year on that system.

Hyperloop Technologies has yet to pick another location for its full-scale, two-mile test track, but the Hyperloop tubes for that system have arrived in Nevada. Last month, Hyperloop Technologies announced it had acquired 50 acres of land in North Las Vegas on which to construct its own test track.

“We have the whole company riveted around achieving our own Kitty Hawk moment,” Rob Lloyd, the company’s new CEO and former Cisco executive, told CNN this month, referring to the town in North Carolina where in 1903 the Wright brothers achieved the first airplane flight.

Similarly, in building its test track, Hyperloop Transportation will test the soil around Quay Valley to determine the best locations for the pylons to support the tube. Once that’s finished, the company will map the terrain with drones to mark the corridor, pylon positions, and station location. The mapping is needed to calculate both the horizontal and vertical alignments required as part of the building permit.

Founded in 2013, HTT has 400 “team members” working on the project. These are engineers from places like NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX, who donate time to HTT in exchange for company stock.

“This is not science fiction,” HTT writes in a recruiting message to engineers on its website. “Our feasibility study is nearly complete, and we are planning to build a full scale prototype.”

This year, three companies have promised to build tracks to test their versions of this futuristic transportation system, called Hyperloop. The idea was first promoted by Elon Musk in 2013, who is an indomitable builder of rockets (SpaceX) and luxury electric cars (Tesla).

Though Mr. Musk decided not to commercialize the Hyperloop, instead has challenged other private companies to do so. However, his aerospace company, SpaceX, will build a one-mile test track near its Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters. It will be up in time for the summer finale of SpaceX’s year-long Hyperloop design competition for student and independent engineering teams.

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