Sunday June 12 2011 / Science & Technology

Between now and 2013, the British-backed Bloodhound Project are out not just to beat but to obliterate the world land speed record with the world’s first 1,600kmh/ 1,000mph car.

             Project manager Richard Noble (left) with pilot Andy Green

As part of a mission led by Richard Noble, Bloodhound SCC (Supersonic Car) will be driven by RAF pilot Andy Green who set the current record of 1,227kmh/ 763mph at the controls of Thrust SSC in October 1997.

                                        The Bloodhound SSC team

At 12.8m/42' long and weighing 6,422 kg /14,128 lbs when fuelled, the new blue and orange jet- and rocket-powered vehicle will be more advanced than most spacecraft – and faster than a bullet fired from a handgun, accelerating from 0 to 1,690kmh/1,050mph in 40 seconds. At maximum velocity, it will cover more than four soccer pitches every second – that means 50m/165' in the blink of an eye!

Noble, who was himself the holder of the land speed record between 1983 and 1997 and was also the project director of Thrust SSC, the predecessor to Bloodhound, says: “The primary objective of the Bloodhound project is to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in science, engineering, technology and maths by demonstrating how they can be harnessed to achieve the seemingly impossible.”

A ‘noble’ aim indeed. But there could also be an equally significant benefit for the fledgling space tourism industry – a safer rocket engine.

Daniel Jubb, chief rocket engineer for the Bloodhound SSC, toyed with several rocket engine designs before settling on a hybrid with a nitrous oxide based motor.

But after three of commercial spaceflight company Scaled Composites’ rocket engineers were killed during an explosion in 2007 while testing how liquid nitrous oxide flows, the 26-year-old decided to look for an alternative and plumped for concentrated hydrogen peroxide, otherwise known as high-test peroxide or HTP.

Unlike nitrous oxide, HTP is liquid at room temperature. According to Jubb, that makes HTP less likely to build up high pressures that can lead to an explosion.

And Jubb reckons that a version of his team’s HTP motor could power the commercial space vehicles of the future. To that end, he is already working on a liquid-fuelled engine for a civilian spaceflight company.

            London now offers the choice of bus, taxi or supersonic transport!

Bloodhound are hoping to shake down their SCC on a runway in the UK at the end of this year. If those tests go smoothly, the car will be transported to a dried up lakebed known as Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape of South Africa to start its assault on the world record.

The record is judged as the average speed of two runs in opposite directions held within an hour. Bloodhound SSC should go through the sound barrier as it passes 1,200kmh/750mph and then complete a measured mile at 1,600kmh/1,000mph. The car will be stopped with the help of airbrakes and parachutes, cooled, refuelled and prepared for another run in under 60 minutes. According to their calculations, the Bloodhound team hope to reach a top speed of  1,680kmh/1,050mph.

We wish the Bloodhound team a safe, low-level flight and the very best of luck.

For more information about the Bloodhound project, please visit www.bloodhoundssc.com.


Suggested by
Ian Skellern