The Air Force Smashed the Maglev Speed Record at 633MPH

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Hold on to your hats: The US Air Force has accelerated a sled down a magnetic levitation track at an incredible 633 mph, setting a new world record in the process.

Researchers from the the 846th Test Squadron set the new maglev land speed record at Holloman Air Force Base. The system uses liquid helium to elevate the sled using superconductor magnets, with rockets powering it down a 2,100-foot (640m) track.

By floating just above the surface of the track rather than touching it, the sled overcomes huge amounts of friction. With the same force behind it as a wheeled counterpart, then, it’s able to move much, much faster. In the past, it’s travelled at 513 mph so now the team has beaten its own record by an impressive 120 mph.

Currently the world speed record for a maglev train stands at 366 mph. The new record is by no stretch the fastest a sled has ever been accelerated down a track, but it’s a new milestone for magnetic levitation. [Holloman Air Force Base]