On Tuesday 20 February, Club members visited the premises of Bloodhound SSC in Avonmouth, Bristol, where they were treated to an exclusive insight into the latest progress behind the 1000mph high-technology project car and its plans to break the sound barrier and achieve the World Land Speed Record.
BLOODHOUND SSC ambassador Chris Goddard hosted a presentation on the impressive technology, design and build behind the unique jet and rocket-powered car, including quirky stats and facts about the team’s education.
BLOODHOUND SSC has several objectives, not only to set the outright Land Speed Record – a accomplishment that Richard Noble and Wing Commander Andy Green have held for more than 20 years – but to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, for which there is a UK shortage.
BLOODHOUND SSC is without doubt the most complex car ever built and it has been a mammoth undertaking. The car is being designed and constructed in the UK and relies heavily on sponsorship. When complete, it will comprise more than 3,500 parts (and 22,500 rivets), of which many have been designed and manufactured uniquely for the car. The aluminium wheels alone are a result of 30 years of research and design. They have been created by an international consortium and forged from one of the highest aircraft grade aluminium alloys in the world.
The vehicle measures approximately 13.4 metres long and weighs a staggering 7.5 tonnes, features a mix of car and aircraft technology. The front section consists of a carbon fibre monocoque, similar to a racing car – albeit with seven layers in this case – while the rear portion is made up of metallic framework and panels, much like an aircraft.
The supersonic car is designed to go faster than the speed of sound (supersonic) at 1,000mph (1,600km/h) and will cover a mile in just 3.6 seconds. It is powered by a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, normally found in a Eurofighter Typhoon and a hybrid rocket which, together, produce more than 135,000 horsepower: that’s more than six times the power of all the Formula 1 cars on a starting grid together. The rocket will be a ‘slide out module’ and changed during the ‘turn around’ of the actual Land Sped Record attempt on its return run.
The run itself will be huge undertaking for the team – the FIA recognises a Land Speed Record as the average speed of two passes, made across a measured distance in opposing directions, within 60 minutes of each other. The car is fitted with hundreds of sensors and will provide live data not only to the BLOODHOUND team, but with schools around the world. Students will be invited to analyse the data and ‘mark’ the engineers’ homework in real time, as part of the world’s biggest STEM educational programme.
In October 2017 the team carried out a successful low speed trial at Cornwall Airport Newquay, which outperformed their expectations. During the trial, Wing Commander Andy Green, the current World Land Speed Record holder, drove BLOODHOUND SSC from a standing start to 200mph in 8 seconds. The actual record attempt will take place in Hakskeen Pan, South Africa – the perfect location with the right altitude, gradient and land mass. The team are hoping to head out to Hakskeen Pan in the Autumn with the objective of running the car at 500mph to test the its performance and handling. It will run for the first time with its solid aluminium wheels, specially designed for the desert surface.
Meanwhile, over in South Africa, more than 300 local residents of Hakskeen Pan have been preparing the 12-mile desert racetrack. They have moved 16,000 tonnes of rock from 22 million square metres of dry lakebed – the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event – testimony to the partnership forged between the BLOODHOUND SSC Team, the local community and the Northern Cape government. It is thought that once BLOODHOUND SSC achieves the record, other race teams in pursuit of speed will follow suit.
With other teams in Australia, American and New Zealand hot on their heels, it is hoped that this British enterprise can secure the 1000mph record for many years to come.
The Club wishes BLOODHOUND SSC every success with their endeavour.