By now you will have hopefully heard about the Bloodhound SSC, the supersonic car that will be in South Africa later this year in a frankly bonkers attempt to shatter the world land-speed record. The group behind Bloodhound are hoping to pass the current record by about 400km/h. That’s no small increase, for a top speed of at least 1,610km/h at the end of the day.
While we’re waiting for that countdown clock for the supersonic record attempt to start, here’s what you need to know about the Bloodhound.
There is a team, headed up by project director Richard Noble, working to get the Bloodhound up over 1,600km/h. The team is based in Britain, and Noble in particular has worked on breaking the world land-speed record for some time. Andy Green, a British fighter pilot, is the driver for this current record attempt and the lucky bugger is also the current world land-speed record holder for his drive in the ThrustSSC, which reached 763 miles (about 1,230km) per hour back in 1997. And there is of course an entire group of engineers with experience in Formula 1 and the aerospace industry working to make sure that Green has the best equipment for his trip across the desert.
They’re not going it alone, surely?
Of course not, they need to get funding from somewhere. But there are also a few South African outfits involved. The Northern Cape government is part of the process, as is local mobile service provider MTN. As well as Castrol, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, several English universities and engineering departments and Rolex, who are the timing sponsors for the event. Quite the roster.
What makes it go?
Jet engines and rockets. For a grand total of 135,000bhp, in fact, which is far too much engine for an ordinary person to handle. That’s why they’ve got a fighter pilot at the controls. Construction of the car itself is very similar to that of a plane, which isn’t surprising considering the engine. It makes use of a EUROJET EJ200 jet engine, the sort found in the Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighter, but that just makes up half of the power behind the Bloodhound. In order to get up to speed, before the jet engine kicks in, a hybrid Nammo rocket will be used. The rocket alone with produce 123.75kN of thrust, combined the rocket and jet will create 212kN of thrust. According to Bloodhound, it equates to “…eight times more power than all the cars on a Formula 1 starting grid combined.”
Where will it be attempting to break the world land-speed record?
After a long search the team settled on an area in the Northern Cape called Hakskeen Pan. 19 by 5km of South African desert and sufficiently hard enough for the Bloodhound to complete its run without the road surface being a factor if anything untoward happens during the record attempt. The location needed to be decided upon so that the Bloodhound’s wheel designers could build them to fit the area – something that has resulted in 95kg aluminium wheels being created for the vehicle.
When will you be able to see it in South Africa?
Dates are subject to change and there isn’t actually a firm one as yet for the Bloodhound’s first proper Haksteenpan run. The team is planning to be in South Africa from September to November this year, and there’s talk of the tests and attempts spilling over into 2016. More precise dates are due to become available after test runs of the vehicle planned for July/August this year, in the UK.
You can check out the comms test for the Bloodhound record attempt here, otherwise you can pick up the June issue of Stuff Magazine for a more in-depth look at the Bloodhound, its driver Andy Green and what makes it go ‘vrooom’ at such psychotic speeds.