October 31, 2013
Turning Dreams Into Reality: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Gets Crowdsourced
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Two months ago, SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveiled plans for a transit system capable of taking passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes, and that far-fetched dream is slowly becoming a reality.
The Hyperloop theoretically would send people traveling over 700 miles-per-hour across 900 miles of land through a vacuum tube. The concept would overcome the Kantrowitz limit, which is a speed law limiting how fast a pod can travel. Musk determined in order to do this, the Hyperloop would have to have an electric compressor fan mounted on the nose of the pod that would actively transfer high pressure air from the vessel’s front to its rear.
Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding website JumpStartFund announced on Thursday the adoption of the Hyperloop on its website. Dirk Ahlborn, the CEO of JumpStartFund, told ABC News' Jon Chang his company reached out to Musk shortly after he announced plans for the Hyperloop.
Musk said during a quarterly earnings call for his electric vehicle firm Tesla Motors in August that he may have shot himself in the foot by discussing plans for the Hyperloop. The inventor said he was too busy with his other business venture to oversee the project, so he had passed the reigns down to some well-equipped people.
Two top engineers have already been named as the project's official leaders, including Marco Villa, former director of mission operations for SpaceX, and Patricia Galloway, former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The project is now operating under the name Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc. Villa told Forbes' Mark Rogowsky that there will be between 30 and 50 people working on various aspects of the Hyperloop design in the coming months. These people will be taking detailed examinations of small tasks, including everything from design of the capsules to environmental impact.
“We feel that we’re at the feasibility phase,” Villa told Rogowsky. “We have proof that this could be done. But we have to get to ‘how it can be done,’ start tackling the big questions.”
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies plans to complete a document answering questions of whether or not the project is feasible by the end of March 2014. This white paper will refine Musk’s original vision, ideally without working directly from it. The company is also looking at having a prototype design completed in June, and the first demo in early 2015.
“The only option for super fast travel is to build a tube over or under the ground that contains a special environment,” Hyperloop wrote in a company profile. “We believe in trying to solve the big problems. By involving the community in this development, we hope to be able to progress with a very fast pace”
Villa told Forbes he is confident investors will be there with funding because several venture capitalists have already been in contact with him.
Even though investors are already showing interest, Villa explained to ABC News that no one is getting paid right now, so this project is purely being driven by the passion of advancing transportation.
"But everyone who participates with a specific aspect gets stock options in exchange for their contributions. In my opinion, people prefer to work on things that matter instead of things that get them high pay,” he told ABC's Chang.