Last weekend, excitement ran high at the SpaceX Hyperloop competition, a culmination of a year's work on dogged research and development to imagine and build the transportation of the future. Just before the first finalist's pod launched, a rustle ran through the crowd of SpaceX employees, hyperloop teams, and journalists. Elon Musk appeared on the stage.
Back in 2013, Musk released his white paper that theorized the possibility of aerodynamic aluminum capsules filled with passengers or cargo that could travel in a nearly airless tube at roughly the speed of sound. "Hyperloop Alpha" teased the possibility of traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 30 minutes. His idea inspired engineers and investors around the world, ultimately prompting Musk to launch the design contest. Part one was held at Texas A&M University last year, while part two — in which actual pods were propelled through an actual hyperloop tube, a global first — wrapped up last Sunday.