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Musk’s SpaceX Dismantles Hyperloop Prototype, Puts Up a Parking Lot

Engineers who worked on the California test tunnel fondly remember their contributions as Musk moves on. 

The Hyperloop test tunnel under construction in California.
The Hyperloop test tunnel under construction in California.

Source: Precision Construction Services

Erik Wright was thrilled when he got the news in 2016 that his business had been selected to help with an ambitious technology project: building the prototype tunnel for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. The initiative was envisioned as a test run for a futuristic transportation system involving levitating pods hurtling through tubes at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour. Earlier this year, Wright got a text with an update on the tunnel: It was slated to be torn down. 

The demise of the test tunnel — a roughly mile-long white cylinder running along Jack Northrop Avenue near the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. office in Hawthorne, California — is symbolic of a larger retreat. While Musk still says he wants to build a Hyperloop, the project has been indefinitely shelved. Musk did end up founding a tunnel-based company called Boring Co., but it falls short of levitation and jet-like speeds. Instead, at its transit system in Las Vegas, Teslas drive conference-goers through dedicated subterranean roads at a ho-hum pace.