back to article Virgin Hyperloop pulls up the biggest chair for Branson, bags $50m, new speed record

Virgin founder Richard "Beardy" Branson has been named non-executive chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, with the superfast tube train company having also won another $50m (£37.39m) in funding. This comes after Branson joined the project in October, investing an unknown amount of money that was apparently enough to get the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, when is he going to build Space Cannon One?

    Seems more logical as a space launch facility (Hyperlaunch?) than fast transport. Just get rid of the curves, point it up a mountain, and stick a relatively weak membrane over the end to hold the internal vacuum until the launch vehicle punches through it. Of course, the velocity will have to go up a bit...

    I hear someone in the middle east tried a low tech version of this a while ago, but had trouble sourcing components....

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: So, when is he going to build Space Cannon One?

      Coming to the Bakerloo(p) line soon? Its renewal plan has it going south past New Cross and then overground. Get up enough speed and it could then go ballistic to Hayes (Kent). Or would it be the good burgers of Hayes who would go ballistic?

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: So, when is he going to build Space Cannon One?

        Space Cannon 1, even if built up the side of Everest, would likely loose a huge amount of energy to aerodynamic drag. Add in the fact that launch acceleration would be limited by what the fleshies on board could stand. Combine the two and it seems likely that SC1 couldn't put anything into Low Earth Orbit without using second stage rockets, and the mass of these would make the whole thing impractical.

        So its obvious: he's waiting for a NASA or Space-X contract to build it on the moon, where a horizontal solar or nuclear-powered electromagnetic launcher could fairly easily kick large loads past lunar escape velocity for return to Earth or interplanetary flights.

        See Robert Heinlein's "The Moon Is A Hard Mistress" for a fairly realistic view on lunar electric catapults and lifestyles.

    2. Matthew Smith

      Re: So, when is he going to build Space Cannon One?

      Escape velocity from the earths surface is 11.18 km/s, ignoring atmospheric drag. This hyperloop so far has managed 0.1 km/s. A full scale hyperloop is designed to achieve 0.3 km/s maxed out. So yes, sadly theres some scaling needed.

    3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: So, when is he going to build Space Cannon One?

      It would have to be going around 40000 km/h after the 600 km climb. It's not a survivable launch unless your payload is a bullet.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: So, when is he going to build Space Cannon One?

        It's not a survivable launch unless your payload is a bullet.

        Oh good, I can think of a few people who should be given tickets…

    4. Fattyman

      Re: So, when is he going to build Space Cannon One?

      If you want to accelerate human bodies you can do a maximum acceleration of 3g. That results in a mere 300km long acceleration way. And build it so that the projectile won't get exploded when leave the acceleration way.

  2. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Linux

    IIRC Mr. Bransons face was modelled on the Star Wars character Salacious Crumb, a Kowakian monkey-lizard that used to hang around with Jabba the Hutt.

    Well it may have been the other way around.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "given by existing backers Caspian Venture Capital and DP World"

    Advice : If you are at work at the mo, dont search for DP World. Big mistake.....

    1. Stuart 22
      Unhappy

      "Advice : If you are at work at the mo, dont search for DP World. Big mistake....."

      Ahem, you must be using a more interesting search engine than mine.

    2. cambsukguy

      The setting you require is 'Moderate', at least at work.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      "Advice : If you are at work at the mo, dont search for DP World. Big mistake....."

      I'm not at work, so I did search. Seems totally work-safe to me, unless your boss hates container ships and pictures of cranes lifting containers off them.

      1. DRendar
  4. LDS Silver badge

    "boasted about its latest speed record, which stands at 387kmph"

    So about the speed of the latest high-speed trains? They are reaching speeds of 350-360 km/h, towards 400... and not in vacuum.

    It's a long road (rail? tube?) for Hyperloop - and it can face the same issues of supersonic commercial travels, if it can reach such speeds.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: "boasted about its latest speed record, which stands at 387kmph"

      The TGV managed 574.8 km/h in testing, which translates into a real-world speed of 320 km/h on timetabled services.

  5. Roj Blake Silver badge

    NHS

    I wonder if the money Branson invested included the cash he got by suing the NHS for not giving him a contract?

  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    What's the record?

    "Hyperloop also boasted about its latest speed record, which stands at 387kmph"

    What's that a record for? A steam train has recorded over 200km/h, bullet trains over 600Km/h, cars (well, a car) is now supersonic and planes are faster still.

    Is this simply a maximum speed recorded for a particular Hyperloop test vehicle?

    A bit like giving a fastest speed record to a red Fiat Panda with four occupants and a dog whilst driven through Dartford Tunnel in the rush hour with a small flag flying from the rear window ...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "fastest speed record..red Fiat Panda..four occupants..a dog whilst driven through Dartford Tunnel"

      Indeed.

      Hyperloop is meant to be fast.

      IE multiple Mach numbers.

      This is what allows you to stuff a lot more passengers in a lot narrower cars because a)They won't be on them long. At Mach 1 a kilometre is <3 seconds.

      London to Birmingham. 126 miles. About 10 mins at Mach 1.

      London to Manchester 200 miles About 16 mins at Mach 1.

      London to Glasgow 412 miles About 33 mins at Mach 1.

      London to Edinburgh 414 miles About 33 mins at Mach 1.

      London to Aberdeen 542 miles About 44mins at Mach 1.

      So from one end of the UK to the other in the time someone takes getting from the outer London suburbs to central London by "tube"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "fastest speed record..red Fiat Panda..four occupants..a dog whilst driven throug

        This is what allows you to stuff a lot more passengers in a lot narrower cars because a)They won't be on them long. At Mach 1 a kilometre is <3 seconds.

        Velocity of the projectile is not the same as capacity, even if the time taken to transit is minimal. Safety clearances to allow for failures, the operational gaps to permit acceleration and deceleration, sealing and evacuating the tube (or decoupling pressurised docking ports) equipment heating, vibration effects, etc etc all mean that the vast speeds that a vacuum tube can in theory deliver are most unlikley to give a viable mass transit system. Hyperloop can't deliver volume passenger transport, and (even if it works) it becomes Concorde in a drainpipe - fabulously expensive transport for the fabulously wealthy few.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          "Velocity of the projectile is not the same as capacity,"

          True.

          I think people think this is like a message pod in a vacuum tube in a building, but for humans. That's simply rubbish. This will need lots of pods together. Since they occupy most of the volume in the pipe pumping down the sections in the stations should be fairly quick.

          Likewise people seem to think the pods will need gaps, like the gaps between pods. I'd suggest they run as a package and the pods are the train,with each pod tracking the one in front.

          More problematical is the cost. Is this a "mass" transit system, given the massive improvement in travel time? That is more doubtful.

      2. batfink

        Re: "fastest speed record..red Fiat Panda..four occupants..etc etc

        @John Smith 19 - you left one thing off your list of journey times:

        - Building the bloody thing: About 150 years.

    2. Vulch

      Re: What's the record?

      The current hyperloop test tracks are short. Show me a steam train that can do 0 to 200km/h and back to 0 within 500m.

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    New markets?

    to set itself up in new markets in Europe, the Middle East and Russia.

    Given that their existing actual markets total precisely zero, shirley the whole world is technically a 'new market'?

    1. Naselus

      Re: New markets?

      Well, given the multi-billion price tag on setting up even the smallest useful hyperloop, the $295 million in the bank isn't much use for anything else.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: New markets?

      I found that strange also. They're still testing the prototypes and haven't settled on a final design yet.

      So, they're now spending $50m on marketing? Huh???

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: New markets?

      Unless it's a Ponzi scheme, pyramid selling?

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: New markets?

        Unless it's a Ponzi scheme, pyramid selling?

        Sssh! Don't give it away. Because debt is currently still very cheap this sort of thing is a one-way bet for some of the investors: offset the debt-financed investment against profit and reduce the tax liability. Even more money if you can sell the stake onto some chump off the street.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: New markets?

          You'll be able to buy tickets with Bitcoin.

  8. Ben1892

    More to the point; how fast would a sheep travel in a hyperloop ?

    1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

      African or European?

    2. Naselus

      Not as quickly as it would in a standard bullet train, and yet it'd still cost much more to make it happen.

    3. maffski

      Re: More to the point; how fast would a sheep travel in a hyperloop ?

      Not very, it would keep hitting all the spherical cows.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad

    I thought Beardy was a real businessman. Sadly, this means either he can't see through the Hyperloop BS, or he knows it will fail but is just in it for the gravy.

    240mph is not much faster than Eurostar. Then look at how expensive HS1/HS2 are/were. Then multiply by about 100 for the cost of hyperloop, which if it ever worked would almost certainly have lower capacity.

    Where's the business case?

    1. DainB Bronze badge

      Re: Sad

      Musk is an entertainer. Like kardashians. No one knows what they do but most know their names.

      Business case here is to regularly create buzz about bullshit projects and pump up the only asset associated with Musk, his Tesla shares.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: Sad

        "only asset associated with Musk, his Tesla shares."

        You seem to be ignoring roughly $10bn worth of Space X shares.

        1. DainB Bronze badge

          Re: Sad

          Space X is a private company, until it goes public it you can't pump share price with public stunts.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Sad

            But you can pump investors. Announce something new, announce new funding round. Rinse & repeat until investors start wanting their money back.

            But hey! It's a new record! And it's now got pink go-faster stripes! They create the illusion of speed, much as Musk did with his Roadster video.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Sad

      The business case? Why status for the passengers of course, much like the status of those who flew on the Concorde.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Sad

      Remember that Eurostar on a test track is a lot faster than Eurostar on a timetabled service between London and Paris. So the Eurostar is actually a lot faster.

  10. DainB Bronze badge

    Why is it called loop

    if it only goes straight line ?

    1. Dr. G. Freeman

      Re: Why is it called loop

      Loop, as you have to be loopy to think it's going to happen this decade.

      44 minutes to London, means nothing when I don't want to go there.

  11. Fattyman

    Could some explain to me why the costs of a normal subway line or a tunnel like Gotthard in Switzerland soars in the multi-billion-range and the Hyperloop not??? I don't see that kind of potential of saving money on building a vacuum tunnel, keeping it evacuated all the time and also implement some not yet defined security measures - I don't mean safety against weapons of harmful fluids like masses of water - I mean how can the capsule passengers savely exit after an accident inside this tunnel???

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      "Could some explain to me why the costs of a normal subway line or a tunnel like Gotthard in Switzerland soars in the multi-billion-range and the Hyperloop not?"

      The main difference is that the normal subway line actually exists, which inevitably makes building it more expensive than marketing a fantasy.

    2. DainB Bronze badge

      Get Musk to bullshit about normal tunnel and it will instantly became cheaper, greener and with solar panels slapped on top. Does it really matter what you bullshit about something you don't plan to deliver ?

  12. ecofeco Silver badge
    Coat

    What this then?

    A train in a tunnel, eh?

    Mines the one with Freud in the pocket. No, no, the other pocket.---------------------------->>

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