New York to Beijing in Two Hours?

If the ET3 company can get its proposed maglev tube system off the ground, science fiction could become reality, writes Eric Jaffe.
March 29, 2012, 10am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Billing their transportation vision as "Space Travel on Earth," ET3's frictionless maglev system, which would run passenger capsules along airless transport tubes, is promising speeds from 370 miles per hour (for local trips) to 4,000 m.p.h. for intercontinental ones.

Unfortunately, it sounds from Jaffe's report as though ET3's vision is more likely to succeed as a patent, a website, and a dream, than as a fully realized transportation system.

According to Jaffe, "Recognizing the obvious financial burden, the company is selling sub-licenses for $100 a pop to Chinese investors who want a share of the action. Though it must be said the company's 2003 cost analysis, estimating construction at an optimistic $2 million a mile, seems to have misplaced a zero or several."

Interestingly, Robert Goddard, considered the "father of modern rocket propulsion," proposed his own vacuum tube transportation system as early as 1909, says Jaffe, who goes on to explore other fantastical transport schemes from the 19th and 20th centuries.

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Published on Thursday, March 29, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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