HyperSciences pushes ahead with blaster tech

HyperSciences has raised more than $9 million for its hypersonic blaster technology using an unusual crowdfunding model, but now it’s working to attract millions more in investment the old-fashioned way.

The six-year-old venture in Spokane, Wash., founded by CEO Mark Russell and backed by Seattle startup veteran Mike McSherry, is in the midst of a funding round that’s offering up to $3.95 million in equity. More than $1.6 million of that equity has already been sold, coming on the heels of a $9.2 million equity-based crowdfunding campaign that made use of the SeedInvest and Crowdcube online platforms.

About 4,000 investors got in on the campaign, which ended last year and morphed into the current investment round, Russell said. “We had investors putting in from $2,000 to … you know, some invested over $100,000,” he told GeekWire. “We’d always built the company to be a starting point for a public company.”

Russell said total investment to date amounts to more than $13 million, including seed funding that came before the crowdfunding. As of last week’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, $2.3 million of the current offering remained to be sold.

For Russell and his team, the true bottom line is to build a solid foundation for the next stage of HyperSciences’ efforts to harness the company’s ram accelerator technology, which came out of a collaboration with the University of Washington.

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Las Vegas bets on Elon Musk’s Boring Company

Las Vegas Boring Company Loop
An artist’s conception shows a vehicle carrying passengers through a loop tunnel in Las Vegas. (Boring Company / LVCVA Illustration)

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s board of directors today approved a recommendation to have the Boring Company build an underground express tunnel that could connect downtown Las Vegas, the city’s convention center and airport, and other points of interest.

It’s the latest roll of the dice for the tunneling company founded by tech titan Elon Musk a little more than two years ago.

The proposition hasn’t yet paid off: The LVCVA and the Boring Company still have to work out the specifics of the tunnel’s design, construction and operational plans. But today’s recommendation sets the stage for the 14-member board to approve a contract at a future meeting to be held by June.

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Elon Musk shows off Boring Company test tunnel

Boring Company tunnel
A Tesla Model X electric car with retractable wheel gear sits inside the Boring Company’s test tunnel. The company’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, says the apparatus turns the car into a “rail-guided train.” (Elon Musk via Twitter)

The Boring Company’s hole in the ground in Hawthorne, Calif., got a Hollywood-style debut tonight courtesy of the company’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk.

Musk stood just outside a 1.14-mile-long test tunnel, illuminated in blue light, and spoke glowingly to a VIP crowd about how tunnels could turn the “soul-crushing” gridlock of urban traffic into a sci-fi experience.

“They’re sort of like wormholes,” he said. “You’re driving around, you think, ugh, I need to get to the other side of L.A., New York, whatever. Drop down the wormhole, pshew, pop out the other side and you just drive normally. I think this is, like, really a panacea.”

Tonight’s first tours served as a curtain-raiser for Musk’s Loop concept, which involves building a 3-D network of tunnels, elevators and ramps  — and then sending autonomous electric cars equipped with retractable guide wheels zipping through those tunnels at speeds of up to 150 mph.

That’s a departure from Musk’s previous idea of using custom-built “skates” to carry cars and people.

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Elon Musk celebrates tunnel’s big breakthrough

Tunnel worker
A worker knocks dirt off the Boring Company’s tunneling machine after its emergence into a vertical shaft. (Elon Musk via Twitter)

The Boring Company’s “cutting-edge technology” got a shout-out from billionaire founder Elon Musk tonight after the venture’s tunneling machine, nicknamed Godot, broke through into a vertical exit shaft in Hawthorne, Calif.

“Congratulations … on completing the LA/Hawthorne tunnel!” Musk wrote in a tweet.

The breakthrough apparently finishes up the heavy-duty boring job for a test tunnel that connects a parking lot next to SpaceX’s headquarters to another piece of property purchased by the Boring Company.

Musk mandated the project to demonstrate a low-cost, small-bore approach to urban tunnelling. The first mile-long section of the Hawthorne Test Tunnel — including a spur line to the exit shaft, known as O’Leary Station — is scheduled to open for invitation-only tours starting on Dec. 10.

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HyperSciences blasts past $3M in funding campaign

HyperSciences test
HyperSciences CEO Mark Russell, at right, grins for the camera while a teammate prepares for a projectile test firing. (HyperSciences Photo)

HyperSciences’ hypersonic blaster technology can be used to send projectiles up into the air, or down into rock — either way, the Spokane, Wash.-based startup says things are looking up.

The company’s unorthodox SeedInvest securities offering has raised more than $3 million so far. “We are actually on our way toward the full $10 million,” HyperScience CEO and founder Mark Russell told GeekWire. The SeedInvest effort builds on $3 million in previous investments, including support from the Washington Research Foundation, Kick-Start II, Cowles Company and The Toolbox.

Thanks to the fresh funding, about 10 employees are being added in Spokane as well as in Austin, Texas.

Why set up an HQ2 in Austin? It’s near the site where HyperSciences is getting ready for a rock-blasting demonstration of its HyperDrill device. “It looks like a reasonable site for us,” said Russell, who’s a veteran of the Seattle startup scene as well as Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture.

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Boring Company proposes tunnel to Dodger Stadium

Dugout Loop plan
A cutaway graphic shows how the western terminus of the Dugout Loop might look, with electric-powered “skates” lined up to be lowered into the transit tunnel. (Boring Company Graphic)

Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s tunneling venture, the Boring Company, is getting the go-ahead sign on a project to build a transit tunnel connecting Dodger Stadium with one of Los Angeles’ Metro Red Line subway stations.

The Boring Company laid out the plan for the Dugout Loop on its website, saying that the linkup could take baseball fans and concertgoers to the stadium in less than four minutes for a roughly $1 fare.

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Elon Musk sends engineers to aid Thai cave rescue

Rescuers in Thailand
Rescuers work on their equipment inside a Thai cave complex where a dozen boys and their soccer coach are trapped. (National News Bureau of Thailand)

Billionaire techie Elon Musk is sending a team of engineers from SpaceX and the Boring Company to help with the increasingly desperate effort to rescue a dozen boys and their soccer coach from a waterlogged cave in Thailand.

The soccer team became trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex nearly two weeks ago when floods from a sudden downpour hemmed them in. Divers were able to reach the boys on July 2, perched on a rock slab above the water level. But on July 5, one of the volunteer rescuers died during an hours-long dive to deliver oxygen to the group.

One of Musk’s fans tweeted out a plea this week for Musk to pitch in. Musk agreed to put on his thinking cap, and eventually to do more than think about it. James Yenbamroong, the founder of Thailand’s mu Space satellite startup, facilitated contacts with the Thai government.

Find out how the tweets flew on GeekWire.


Elon Musk: Chicago tunnel can be done in 3 years

Mark this down for later: Tech billionaire Elon Musk says the Boring Company could begin work on the express tunnel linking downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport in three to four months, and have it finished in three years. Musk, who’s famous for overly optimistic timelines, laid out that plan today as he stood alongside Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to announce the deal at a news conference in the unfinished Block 37 transit superstation.

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Boring Company wins nod for Chicago airport tunnel

Boring Company tunnel skate
An artist’s conception shows one of the Boring Company’s “skates” traveling through a transit tunnel. (Boring Company Illustration)

Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s Boring Company is getting the go-ahead to build a multibillion-dollar express transit system between downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport, city officials said.

Mayoral spokesman Grant Klinzman told GeekWire in a tweet tonight that the Boring Company won the bid. “Consider it confirmed,” he said.

In a follow-up statement, the Boring Company said its aim will be “to alleviate soul-destroying traffic by constructing safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly public transportation systems.”

Musk’s 18-month-old company beat out a bid from O’Hare Xpress LLC, a consortium that included the Mott MacDonald engineering firm and JLC Infrastructure, a venture backed by former basketball star Magic Johnson.

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6 takeaways from Elon Musk’s big tunnel talk

Elon Musk and Steve Davis
Elon Musk and Boring Company project leader Steve Davis talk about tunnels at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles. (Boring Company Photo / Kevin Mills)

If billionaire Elon Musk’s tunnel vision comes to pass, travelers will be able to zip beneath Los Angeles through an underground Loop system at 150 mph for about $1 a ride.

That’s the promise of the Boring Company in a nutshell. During a Thursday night session that lasted nearly an hour, Musk and the Boring Company’s project leader, Steve Davis, laid out their case for building a network of tunnels 30 feet or more beneath Los Angeles, starting with a 2.7-mile “proof of concept” dig.

Musk’s aim is to get around the “soul-destroying traffic” that afflicts L.A. and other big cities, by building as many tunnels as needed to accommodate underground transit on fast-moving pods. Priority would be given to passengers and bicyclists, but cars could be lowered from the streets into subterranean superhighways as well.

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