On March 2 2016, the 846th test squadron headed to a test track at Holloman Air Force Base.
As first reported by, Senior Airman Breeann Sachs, the squadron was 17 miles in the desert when it shattered the maglev system land speed record. And then two days later, they did it again.
According to Popular Mechanics, the previous mark was set in Japan with a system that topped out at 366 mph. The 846th hit 513 mph. Two days later the magnetically levitated sled system hit a staggering 633 mph.
The 2,000-pound sled raced across the nearly frictionless 2,100-foot track, accelerating at 928 feet per second. The test took nearly six months of planning to prepare for the launch.
According to Airman 1st Class Randahl J. Jenson, the one-of-a-kind system uses powerful magnets to steady a rocket-propelled sled.
In order for the magnets to work properly, engineers must first cool them with cold liquid helium to four degrees Kelvin above absolute zero—four degrees above the coldest an object can possibly get—to ensure the smoothest ride possible.
After the successful test, the squadron plans to refine the sled, looking into lighter materials with the eventual goal of reaching Mach 10.
Mach 1 represents the speed of sound, about 128 mph faster than that day in the desert. Mach 10 is a hypersonic speed reaching 7,672.69 mph. At that rate, you could travel the circumference of the earth in about 3.25 hours.
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