Los Angeles firm AECOM to build SpaceX's hyperloop test track in Hawthorne
By Staff reports (01/26/2016)
Elon Musk's SpaceX has selected Los Angeles-based builder AECOM to design and construct a nearly one-mile hyperloop test track in Hawthorne.
The high-speed transportation system proposed by Musk envisions a system of low-pressure tubes and air-cushioned pods capable of reaching up to 760 mph. The system, pitched as a replacement for high-speed rail, theoretically would allow riders to make a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than an hour.
"AECOM has designed and built some of the world's most impressive transportation systems, so we can appreciate how the development of a functioning Hyperloop with SpaceX can dramatically expand the ways people move across cities, countries and continents," Michael S. Burke, AECOM's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "What we are delivering is more than just a track to test pod prototypes, it's a glimpse into the future."
Construction is expected to begin in the spring on the test track, which will include a 6-foot-diameter steel tube and stretch nearly a mile adjacent to SpaceX's Hawthorne headquarters. The track "will serve as a vacuum-sealed, high-speed proving ground for transport pod prototypes," AECOM said.
When he revealed his vision for the hyperloop in 2013, Musk said the route would mostly follow the 5 Freeway, with the tube running in the median. The devoted futurist said the line would include two main stations - in Los Angeles and San Francisco - with several other stations along the way.
At the time, he said he would draw on talent from the two companies he runs, Hawthorne rocket developer SpaceX and Palo Alto electric car maker Tesla.
Last summer, SpaceX announced an open challenge for university students to design the pod prototype. Those students will meet Friday and Saturday at Texas A&M University, with the best pods expected to compete on the test track this summer.
AECOM, a Fortune 500 design and building firm headquartered on Avenue of the Stars in Century City, has a background in constructing bridges, high-speed rail and urban transit hubs, according to a company news release.
The company, noted for its construction of sports stadiums, hospitals, bridges and transit centers, said several groups are involved in hyperloop development efforts, and it has not endorsed or validated any technology or approach. Rather, AECOM said in a statement it is "committed to working with all transportation companies."