SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition

Submission: October 15, 2015
Registration:  September 15, 2015
Language: English
Location: Concept
Prizes: N/A
Type: Open


University students and engineers now have a chance to contribute to the ongoing development of Elon Musk’s and SpaceX’s Hyperloop, the high-speed ground transit system that Musk first unveiled in 2013. Since then, the Hyperloop has attracted a healthy amount of speculation and exploration, including the establishment of private (and non-affiliated) Hyperloop companies that are also working to make the Hyperloop a potential reality.

As SpaceX prepares for the construction of a one-mile test track near their headquarters in Hawthorne, California, they recently launched a design-build competition open to university students and independent engineering teams to propose their own Hyperloop human-scale transit pod.

On August 12, 2013, Elon Musk released a white paper on the Hyperloop, his concept of high-speed ground transport. In order to accelerate the development of a functional prototype and to encourage student innovation, SpaceX is moving forward with a competition to design and build a half-scale Hyperloop pod. In parallel with the competition, SpaceX will be constructing a sub-scale test track (inner diameter between 4 and 5 feet; length approximately 1 mile) adjacent to its Hawthorne, California headquarters. On competition weekend, entrants will operate their pods within this test track. The competition schedule is shown in the table below.


Design Weekend

  • The goal of the design weekend is for entrants to submit their pod designs, which, after receiving feedback and vetting from SpaceX officials, will then be constructed for the competition weekend.
  • Entities that are not interested in building a pod may still present designs for a pod, an individual subsystem, or an individual safety feature. As an example of an individual subsystem submission, a team could choose to optimize the pod’s aerodynamics or to design the pod’s low-speed system. The purpose of this submission would be to receive design feedback and to participate in a fun educational event.
  •  Entrants will present before an evaluation panel, which will be composed mainly of SpaceX engineers, Tesla Motors engineers, and university professors.
  • Companies will be able to use design weekend as a platform for selecting teams to sponsor, meaning that those companies would then contribute funds, at their discretion, toward the construction of a team’s competition pod.Competition Weekend
  • The criteria and rules for the competition weekend will be more rigorous than those used during design weekend, and they will be released in August 2015 as part of Event B.
  • In addition to hosting the competition, SpaceX will likely build a pod for demonstration purposes only. This team will not be eligible to win.
  • At SpaceX’s discretion, teams will be allowed to test their pods through the test track before competition weekend.
  • SpaceX, at its sole discretion, may allow or disallow entrants from accessing the test track.
    No human will ride in any pod or other transport device used on the test track during this competition.


SpaceX will publicly release a package which includes:

  1. Requirements for Preliminary Design Briefing contents
  2. Requirements for Final Design Package contents
  3. Full Design Weekend logistics
  4. Full Competition Weekend rules
  5. Full criteria and performance metrics for Competition Weekend judging
  6. Complete tube specifications
  7. Competition Entry Agreement to be signed by all entrants
  8. Intellectual Property Policy


The Intent to Compete is an online form which can be found at www.spacex.com/hyperloop. The online form includes:

  • University/entity name and a contact name and email
  • Intent to either build a pod for competition weekend or to only present a design (pod,subsystem or safety feature) at the design weekend
  • Acknowledgement that entrant is aware that, in order to enter the competition, he or she willhave to sign a subsequently released Entrant Agreement.The online form must be submitted by 5:00pm PDT on September 15, 2015. Within two weeks of submission, a follow-up email will be sent to each entrant requesting additional information.


Full details will be provided in August 2015 (Event B). The Preliminary Design Briefing only applies to student teams. This Preliminary Design Briefing package will consist of a PowerPoint slide deck of no more than 30 slides, which will likely include:

  1. Top-level design description for pod
  2. Top-level safety features description
  3. List of any desired modifications to baseline tube definition (per Event B specification)
  4. Updated list of team members (and their university majors, if applicable)

In order for SpaceX to evaluate the package, the entrant must have submitted a signed Entrant Entry Agreement (per Event C). The purpose of this briefing is for SpaceX to preliminarily vet the design and ensure that the entrant is headed in an appropriate direction.


Full details will be provided in August 2015 (Event B). For all entrants, this package should include a top- level design package, a description of the pod’s safety features, and a top-level pod failure analysis. For student teams, this package will also likely require additional data, including:

  1. Low-level design package
  2. Answers to additional technical questions – examples are given in Section 8
  3. Pod production schedule, bill of materials, and cost breakdown
  4. Updated list of team members (and their university majors, if applicable)


An in-person design weekend will be held on January 9, 2016 at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, for all entrants. Full details will be provided in August 2015 (Event B).

Go to the competition