Elon Musk’s highest profile company, Tesla, might be feeling the strain as analysts downgrade their share price targets for the electric car maker but his side projects have had a positive several days. Last week SpaceX, Musk’s space transportation services company, completed the first major satellite launch of its Starlink network that will offer a pan-global high-speed internet connection. Musk’s longer term ambitions for SpaceX are to first offer commercial trips to the moon and eventually colonise Mars.
And over the weekend The Boring Company, the tunnelling company Musk established to build futuristic ‘Hyperloop’ transport networks, announced the signing off for its first commercial contract. The Boring Company has been contracted to build two 1-mile tunnels that will be used to connect and transport visitors between the Las Vegas Convention Centre’s New Exhibit Hall, North Hall, Central Hall and South Hall.
The contract is worth a little shy of $50 million and work on the tunnels is planned to commence within two months. The tunnels themselves should be completed by the end of the current year and the transportation system operational by 2021. The company has also wasted no time in describing potential extensions to the original project, connecting the ‘Loop’ to McCann International Airport, the Las Vegas Strip, downtown, Las Vegas Stadium and even, eventually Los Angeles, which is around 270 miles away. As far as anyone is aware, there is no current plan or even discussions ongoing over subsequent extensions.
It’s been reported that The Boring Company will be paid the bulk of the contract’s value once the project has reached an advanced stage and vehicle testing has already commenced. Onerous fines will also be applied if the project runs behind schedule or fails to meet its goal of being able to transport 4400 people an hour – perhaps wise given Musk’s track record of missing optimistic deadlines he sets for his companies.
The Boring Company is one of three U.S.-based start-ups working on ‘hyperloop’ transportation technology – the other two being Virgin Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT). The concept is that of a sealed tube, or system of tubes, where air pressure is reduced to allow pressurised cabins to travel through them free of air resistance or friction at high speeds of up to 760 mph.
While futuristic, hyperloop technology is actually pretty simple and as a result would be, in theory, a far cheaper way to build underground transportation systems than those currently in commercial use.
Major hyperloop projects currently in the conceptual or planning stage include a Mumbai to Pune route in India, a Dubai to Abu Dhabi route and in Europe Helsinki to Stockholm and Bratislava to Budapest. Elon Musk has long proposed an L.A. to San Francisco hyperloop tunnel and hopes The Boring Company will one day build it.