The Bloodhound SSC (supersonic car), designed by a team of British engineers, hopes to break land speed records when it tests its 1,000mph limit on the smooth and flat surface of a dried lake bed in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province in 2011.
It was RAF pilot Andy Green in the Thrust SSC who set the current record for land speed in 1997 when a speed of 763mph was achieved. Green and his team are presiding over the Bloodhound SCC and aim to smash their own record.
The rocket-powered supersonic car has been in the design process since August 2007, when it was first conceived, but the latest "Jet over Rocket" configuration is hoped to be the one that will push it to a speed of 1,000mph.
This configuration means the thrust forces from the jet and the rocket balance either side of the centre of gravity of the vehicle, which creates less downward force on the front wheels when the rocket is fired.
Last month, the Bloodhound’s full-sized hybrid rocket was fired successfully to see if it would actually work, but as with testing new technology Green was slightly apprehensive: “After mentioning last month that we’re going to be feeding the equivalent of 100 coke-bottle bombs into the rocket every second, I was slightly worried in case it really did blow up.
“In just over a year’s time I have to strap myself to one of these things – so I’m really, really glad that it worked first time.”
Aside from smashing a world record, the Bloodhound has other plans with the Bloodhound Education Programme, which is designed to inspire interest and passion in maths, sciences and technology.
Already more than 2,400 primary and secondary schools are using Bloodhound as a way to teach these subjects in the classroom.
By Marie Boran
Photo: The Bloodhound SSC, the rocket-powered supersonic car.