In 1997, the world land speed record was broken by the Thrust SSC, reaching a speed of 763 mph. Since then, different people have been working on setting a new record. A vehicle that could potentially be up to the challenge is the Bloodhound. The car is set to try and break the land speed record in late 2019 and it’s been announced that the project schedule is being compressed over the next 18 months.
Originally, 500 mph test runs were going to take place in Autumn 2018, but they’ve been pushed back until May 2019. This is down to funding availability and the fact engineers want a more complete car. The Bloodhound team would have been missing important exterior components, such as winglets and air-brakes.
Chief engineer Mark Chapman gave his opinion. “From an engineering point of view, the change in schedule makes sense. It means the car we start running with in South Africa, and gathering data on, is more like the car we’re going to break the record with.”
The aim of the team is to reach 800 mph first and then surpass it with 1000 mph. The Bloodhound will use a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine in combination with a rocket to break the sound barrier. To achieve this feat, the Bloodhound will be launched on a specially prepared raceway called Hakskeen Pan in Northern Cape.
The Bloodhound project was launched in 2008 and it’s turned out to be far more complex than anyone could have thought. Former land speed record holder and director of Bloodhound, Richard Noble has said “there have been many false dawns over the life of the project and we have, regrettably but unavoidably, tested the patience of our friends, supporters and team. The Bloodhound leadership team firmly believes this development will be a game changer…but we want to prove this, not merely hope for it.”
The Bloodhound successfully reached 200 mph in October 2016, so the next challenge is to reach 600 mph. The jet engine will be required for this, but to go faster the Bloodhound will need to rely on the rocket motor. To break the record, the motor will need to be switched to full hybrid mode, which would involve solid fuel grain burnt in the company of liquid hydrogen peroxide.
Chapman is confident in the progress his team are making. “We’re always looking to the future, and there are some very interesting electric technologies out there, and it is just a question of finding the right commercial partners who want to showcase it in the Bloodhound.”