The only winning criterion in this third instalment of the SpaceX Pod Competition was speed. TU Delft’s launcher reached 142 km/h, winning second place in the final run on Sunday 22 July at the SpaceX headquarters in California.
The speed reached by TU Delft’s team was lower than expected. Its initial intention was to break the Hyperloop speed record previously set at 384 km/h. “We took great risks to try to win gold. These risks just went wrong for us,” explained team leader Edouard Schneiders.
Of the 20 student teams that successfully completed the preliminary rounds and brought their pods to the competition in California, only four passed the safety and vacuum tests and were allowed to launch their pod in the 1.2 km low-pressure tube. The fastest team and winner of the competition was TU Munich’s WARR Hyperloop, with a top speed of 467 km/h.
The goal of all Hyperloop challenges is to accelerate the development of the ‘fifth mode of transportation’ conceived by Tesla and SpaceX. Hyperloop is a transportation mode that consists of a pressurised vehicle powered by electric motors that travels in a tube in a near vacuum. By reducing the air resistance, the pod can, in theory, reach a velocity of over 1,000 km/h.