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Short-track testing of Elon Musk’s futuristic Hyperloop is slated to begin in 2016

The Elon Musk-inspired Hyperloop system took a step closer to reality this week as burgeoning startup Hyperloop Technologies announced that it will begin testing of the innovative tech early next year. After securing a land deal at the Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas, Nevada, the company said it’s already sending hardware to the newly acquired site to begin construction of its Propulsion Open Air Test (POAT) facility. In light of the news, it seems Musk’s “fifth mode of transport” is quickly becoming more science fact than science fiction.

For those unaware, the Hyperloop tech is a proposed transportation system which essentially relies on giant tubes built between two locations. Inside these tubes is a controlled environment where it’s possible to propel people (or parcels) inside special pods at incredibly high speeds. Basically, think of it as a giant, human-sized version of those pneumatic tubes you see at banks. Yeah, we want to ride one, too.

Artist rendition of the Hyperloop track

Artist rendition of the Hyperloop track

According to a press release, Hyperloop Technologies secured its 50-acre land deal in association with Nevada governor Brian Sandoval, the Office of Economic Development, and North Las Vegas mayor John Lee. At the test site, the company plans on constructing a track measuring two-thirds of a mile in order to run its custom designed electric motor at speeds of up to 335 miles per hour. Though the POAT track won’t support a full-speed run, it does allow the company to test tube configuration, fabrication, pod designs, and systems engineering.

Related: As Hyperloop progress glides forward, here’s what you need to know

As testing occurs at the POAT facility, Hyperloop Technologies intends to search for a proper site to build its Safety, Development, and Test location for more full-fledged trials. Once it decides on a proper location, construction of a 1.8-mile prototype track expects to complete by late 2016 or early 2017. Successful testing at the POAT and Safe, Development, and Test location figures to keep Hyperloop Technologies on track to offer a fully-functioning Hyperloop by as soon as 2020.

“This decision represents another major milestone in our journey to bring Hyperloop to commercial reality,” said Hyperloop Technologies CEO Rob Lloyd. “Hyperloop Technologies will invest first in regions where we receive government advocacy to move fast.”

It’s unknown when exactly Hyperloop Technologies plans on beginning testing at the POAT facility, but you can expect to see an update on progress no later than March of 2016.