8 things we learned during a visit to the Bloodhound SSC project
When it comes to speed, Richard Noble and Andy Green are the undisputed kings.
Between them, they have held the Land Speed Record since 1983, with Noble first driving Thrust 2 to 633mph and following this up by being the project leader on Thrust SSC, which Green drove to 763mph in 1997. Green became the first man ever to drive a car beyond the speed of sound and the record has stood ever since - the longest period that any Land Speed Record has ever gone unbroken.
The two are returning to try to renew their claim to the record in 2017, with Bloodhound SSC. This incredible vehicle, part jet engine, part rocket, is designed to reach a truly staggering 1,000mph on a purpose-built race track in South Africa. Despite these lofty ambitions, preparations take place in a modest warehouse near Bristol with a surprisingly small engineering team.
More than that though, the Bloodhound Project is also aimed at getting schoolchildren interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (collectively known as 'STEM') through an extensive education programme where children get to build their own rocket-powered model cars.
As the project welcomed on board a new lead partner, AOL Cars was invited in to see the car first hand and learn more about this astounding machine. Here are some of the most fascinating facts we learned during the trip.
1. For initial acceleration, Bloodhound will use the jet engine from a Eurofighter Typhoon. This will bring the car up to around 300mph and at full speed it will take in 65,000 litres of air a second - enough to suck all the air out of an average house in just three seconds.
2. Following the first phase of acceleration, the car's rocket engine is ignited. In its final form, this will take it up to the designated 1,000mph top speed.
3. To reach 1,000mph from rest will take Bloodhound just 55 seconds - this is equivalent to the same constant rate of acceleration as a car that will do 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds, despite the fact that Bloodhound weighs nearly 8 tonnes.
4. A supercharged, V8 engine from a Jaguar F-Type sits at the heart of Bloodhound, but doesn't provide any power to the car itself. Rather it acts as a fuel pump to deliver the combustion mixture to the rocket motor.
5. At 1,000mph, the car will cover the flying mile over which the top speed is measured in just 3.6 seconds. It will then use air brakes and parachutes to return to 0mph in only 65 seconds, with the entire run taking 2 minutes.
6. The location for the record run has had to be chosen very carefully, for the right atmospheric conditions and the right surface, with 20,000 candidates considered following a satellite survey by Swansea University.
7. The team eventually found that the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa was ideal, but needed to be cleared of stones. A team of over 300 locals hand-cleared around 16,000 tonnes of rocks, over an area roughly equivalent to a two-lane road from Bristol to Moscow.
8. The track itself is more than 12 miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide!