This spring, the Hyperloop came a few giant steps closer to reality when the startup Hyperloop One completed a successful test run in the Nevada desert, then announced it had secured $80 million in funding.
Now the Los Angeles-based startup is gearing up to start making pieces of the futuristic high-speed train. The company announced in a press release Wednesday that it's building a massive factory in North Las Vegas where it will produce the materials used for constructing the track. The company has dubbed the facility Metalworks and calls it "the first Hyperloop manufacturing plant in the world."
The 105,000 square-foot factory will start by creating components for DevLoop, a Hyperloop prototype the company wants to build by early 2017. According to the company, engineers and welders will work in the plant, which will contain machines that can cut over 115 feet of steel per minute to an accuracy of within one-thousandth of an inch. It will also house a test lab for the propulsion system that will help the Hyperloop reach its blazing speeds.
Eventually the 170-person team will use the facility to build parts for a fully functional Hyperloop, which the startup has said it wants to complete by 2020.
The Hyperloop is a project from the mind of Elon Musk. His original vision in 2013 called for a 400-mile track that can take passengers from L.A. to San Francisco in about 35 minutes, with max speeds of around 760 mph--just below the speed of sound. The idea is to accomplish this feat by having a pod float above a set of powerful magnets in a near-vacuum tube, nearly eliminating friction and air resistance. Another company, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, is racing to build its own test track in California, though it hasn't yet given a public demonstration. Musk isn't directly involved with either firm, but he's holding a competition to build a half-scale Hyperloop at SpaceX's California headquarters later this summer.
The factory announcement comes weeks after the sudden, bizarre departure of Hyperloop One co-founder Brogan BamBrogan. BamBrogan is suing the company, claiming he received a death threat from Afshin Pishevar, the brother of co-founder Shervin Pishevar. Security footage from Hyperloop's headquarters appeared to show Afshin Pishevar leaving a noose on BamBrogan's chair. Hyperloop One has responded by suing BamBrogan, saying he tried to stage a coup to take over the company.
Despite the internal strife, Hyperloop One seems to be making progress toward creating the world's fastest form of ground transportation. The May test run was only four seconds long, but it reached speeds of more than 300 mph. The next step will be creating the full-size prototype--a goal that Metalworks should help make possible.