The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, a state owned corporation that is roughly equivalent to NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and SpaceX all rolled into one, says it is making plans to build T-Flight — a high speed “flying train” that could eventually travel as fast as 4000 kilometers per hour inside sealed tubes using magnetic levitation technology. The proposal is part of a massive $3 trillion Chinese global infrastructure proposal known as One Belt, One Road.
While America under Donald Trump is looking inward, China is looking far beyond its borders. OBOR would connect most of Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In essence, it is a modern-day recreation of the Silk Road — a collection of ancient trade routes dating back 2,000 years that are credited with promoting the exchange of goods and intellectual ideas throughout China, Korea, Japan, India, Persia, Arabia, Africa, and Europe.
The similarities to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept are evident. But where Musk’s concept is intended to travel at roughly the speed of sound, the T-Flight proposal would be 5 times faster than a conventional airliner as it whooshes along at Mach 4 speeds — eventually. Its designers say they are targeting 1000 km/h for the initial phase of the project before doubling that to 2000 km/h, then doubling it again to 4000 km/h. Each pod would carry about 20 passengers. Turnaround time between the end of one trip and the beginning of the next would be about 3 minutes, thanks to highly advanced turntables at each terminus.
Mao Kai, the chief designer of the system, claims that the T-Flight trains will accelerate and decelerate more slowly than a commercial jetliner so that passengers will feel no discomfort. He also pooh-poohs suggestions that the trains will be prohibitively expensive, something that proved the undoing of the Concorde SST airplane system. CASIC already holds more than 200 technology patents for the system, he says.
Is the T-Flight “flying train” proposal preposterous? Of course it is. That’s what makes it so intriguing. Constructing thousands of miles of vacuum-sealed tunnels that align perfectly over time and are earthquake, weather, and vandal proof would be a Herculean task. The maglev propulsion system would suck up huge amounts of power. If all that energy doesn’t come from sustainable sources, what’s the point?
Still, it represents a giant step forward compared to the idiocy of America’s #FakePresident, who seems to believe that “clean coal” means washing the stuff after it comes out of the ground. Whatever the fate of the T-Flight, China is speeding into the future while the US is pining for the days of the Old West. The geopolitical consequences should be obvious to anyone with more than a 3rd grade education.
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