West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice held a news conference on Friday along with Virgin Airlines founder Sir Richard Branson to announce a partnership to bring the Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center to Tucker County in West Virginia.
Hyperloop is a theoretical transportation system originally proposed by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. The idea was to create a high-speed transportation system to send a podlike capsule levitating along a rail inside a low-pressure tube at speeds of more than 600 miles per hour.
The proposal sparked a wave of companies and innovators working to make this technology a reality, with Virgin Hyperloop being one of the biggest investors. A fully functional hyperloop system is still a long way from coming to fruition, but this certification center will help Virgin move closer to realizing that dream.
“Today is one of the most exciting days in Virgin Hyperloop’s history,” Branson said in a statement. “The Hyperloop Certification Center is the start of the hyperloop journey for West Virginia, for the United States, and for the world. We’re one step closer to making hyperloop travel a reality for people everywhere.”
Virgin has committed to bringing a safety certification facility as well as a 6-mile tubing system for transportation to West Virginia. Virgin representatives estimate 150-200 engineering and technician jobs will be filled along with 13,000 local jobs in construction, manufacturing and maintenance.
“This is such a big, big thing. It is truly cutting-edge technology,” Justice said.
“It is truly about way more than just West Virginia or our nation. It is about transforming transportation. It is an idea, it is America at its best for the entire world. So, I can’t possibly be more proud. And if any of you are wondering, West Virginia. How could it be West Virginia? I would tell you this if you don’t know West Virginia, West Virginia is changing, and West Virginia is on the move.”
According to Virgin, the certification center will pave the way for certifying hyperloop transportation systems across the US, moving people and cargo at a rate of 670 MPH.