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Virgin Hyperloop cofounder Josh Giegel and Sara Luchian, director of passenger experience, prepare for their high-speed ride. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Hyperloop)

Virgin Hyperloop carried its first passengers in a high-speed vacuum tube Sunday in a test run that company officials hailed as a major milestone toward commercializing the revolutionary transportation technology.

Why it matters: The test was intended to show that hyperloop travel — using magnetic levitation to whisk small pods through a vacuum tube at speeds of up to 600 miles per hour — is safe for humans. The company says it could one day enable a 45-minute journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco, with no emissions.

Be smart: It will be years, potentially even decades, before the public can take a high-speed trip.

Details: The test guinea pigs were Josh Giegel, co-founder and chief technology officer, and Sara Luchian, director of passenger experience, who seemed no worse for the wear after the journey.

  • Experts have cautioned that traveling at such high speeds could cause motion sickness.
  • Yes, but: The test took place at Virgin Hyperloop’s 500-meter test site in Las Vegas and only got up to about 100 miles per hour before running out of track.
  • The entire journey lasted 15 seconds.

What to watch: More meaningful tests will be possible once a new six-mile hyperloop certification center is up and running in West Virginia.

Go deeper

16 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

4 hours ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Nursing homes are still getting pummeledU.S. could hit herd immunity by end of summer 2021 if Americans embrace virus vaccines, Fauci says.
  2. Politics: Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework.
  3. World: U.K. clears Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for mass rollout — Putin says Russia will begin large-scale vaccination next week.
  4. Business: Investors are finally starting to take their money out of safe-haven Treasuries.
  5. Sports: The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight.