British Car in Land Speed Record Bid
You might think that the Jaguar F-Type, Aston Martin V12 Vantage S and McLaren P1 are fast, but they really have nothing on this car.
A British-built rocket hybrid car is bidding to break the land speed record and become the fastest car on earth. Harking back to the glory days of British motor sport and glamorous record attempts, there will be a swashbuckling RAF officer behind the wheel of a rocket-powered car which has been built in Bristol.
The daring attempt is scheduled to take place in South Africa, on a part of the Hakskeen Pan in the Kalahari Desert that has been cleared specially for the occasion. Here, it is hoped, the Bloodhound SSC (which stands for supersonic car) will accelerate to an incredible 1,000mph, breaking the sound barrier before going on to break the land speed record.
The project has cost almost £40 million, but this has been met by donations from big businesses, which are keen to be associated with the glamour and power of the vehicle. Despite all the talk of the 1,000mph top speed, however, the scientists who are masterminding the attempt say that the Bloodhound SSC project is not all about speed. Instead, they say, it is about inspiring young British engineers to go on and excel in their field. The driver of the car, Wing Commander Andy Green, agrees and says that his main job is to inspire a new generation of mathematicians, scientists and engineers.
The RAF officer will be attempting to break the current land speed record of 763 mph that he set himself back in 1997 in the Thrust SSC car developed by Richard Noble. The new car, however, has moved on considerably since then. Now it is no longer enough just to be fast - you have to think abou the environment as well. Green explains this need to be socially and environmentally aware by saying that the young people that the project is trying to inspire will be the ones who will be designing and building the green systems of the future. While they might not get excited about a wind turbine, they might just get excited about a 1,000 mph car, and in this way the Bloodhound SSC team is trying to spark their imaginations.
Just how green the Bloodhound SSC is, however, is open to question. During its one-minute record attempt, it will produce as much pollution as a jumbo jet flying for 17 miles. On the other hand, the designers of the car say that the hybrid jet-rocket system of propulsion built of the car is the greenest way that it is possible to break the sound barrier in a land car.
The project took a giant step forward in March when the rocket propulsion unit and the car's chassis were joined together. Another major stage will take place in August, when the car will undergo 'low-speed' trials of 200mph at Newbury airport. The team was at pains, however, to emphasise that the project is not just about that land speed record. That is why they will be visiting 6,000 British schools, handing out learning packs and running an exciting model rocket car competition. The team say that they will connect with 8.5 million school kids over the next few years.
The car is an engineering marvel and will be capable of hitting 1,000 mph in just 55 seconds. This is made possible by means of a Eurofighter jet engine and space rockets. This combination will pump out around 135,000 bhp, which, to put in context, is more than ten times the power produced by the entire starting line-up of a Formula1 race.
The Bloodhound SSC team is heading out to South Africa later in 2015 to build up to an 800mph run which will break the existing world record. They will then go back in 2016 to go for that incredible 1,000mph run.