Yesterday was the first meeting I was able to attend for the Propulsion Team for the Hyperloop Club. The Propulsion Team’s job is actually slightly different than one would expect. The method with which the pod actually moves has already been decided on by SpaceX, the pod itself is sealed in a very low pressure tube (100 Pa) and moves by using a large compressor in the front of the pod to essentially pull the pod along on air skates. Essentially, the pod is like a puck on an air hockey table and the low pressure in the tube allows it to move very fast, up to 760 mph! Since all of this has already been decided by SpaceX the Propulsion Team in the club is actually in charge of coming up with a breaking system. This is challenging because we have to come up with a way to bring the pod down to a speed of 100 mph from 760 mph without exceeding a breaking force over 1g due to the comfort of the passengers. At 100 mph we are allowed to deploy wheels like that of a commercial airliner and use a conventional breaking system to bring the pod to a complete stop. So far we’ve been kicking around the idea of using a magnetic breaking system like that of a maglev train, but that solution seems expensive and unrealistic. Instead we are going to try and come up with a breaking system using the compressor and the aerodynamics of the pod itself. But before we can do this well have to sit down with some of the professors that teach fluid mechanics for some help. In addition to this the Propulsion Team is also in charge of coming up with a backup method of propulsion to move the pod around, like a simple electric motor, so it can be moved to and from the test track easily. There’s a lot of work yet to be done so look for more updates in the future.