Breaking the 4-Second Mile.

Obviously computer-rendered…once in motion, the only part of this you’d ever see is the back.

Richard Noble OBE, project director of the October 1997 ThrustSSC land speed run which still holds the world record—763 mph—has announced his intent to break the 1,000 mph mark in 2011 with a new, yet-to-be-built car called the Bloodhound SSC, depicted in the computer rendering, above.

Requiring only 40 seconds to reach its top speed of 1,050 mph, the planned 42-foot-long, 7-ton vehicle will be blazing past onlookers at more than a mile every four seconds, faster than a handgun bullet. At that point, downward air pressure alone on the car will be higher than one ton per square foot.

How ya like me now?

Bloodhound SSC will be “piloted” by Wing Commander Andy Green OBE, the British Royal Air Force pilot who drove ThrustSSC to the sound barrier-breaking world record eleven years ago, held at that time by Noble. (Together, these two men, and thus the British, have owned land speed records for a quarter-century.)

Test runs through 2009, 2010, and 2011 are expected to take the car up to 800 mph, 900mph, and 1,000 mph, respectively. Getting the Bloodhound SSC up to that top speed—equivalent to Mach 1.4—will require three engines: A Eurojet EJ200 jet will speed the vehicle up to 300 mph, at which point the SSC’s Falcon HTP rocket will shove the car towards, and ultimately far faster than, the speed of sound.

As well, says Noble,

In the middle of the Bloodhound SSC is the MCT V12 800 bhp race engine which doubles as our APU [i.e., auxilliary power unit] delivering hydraulic power as needed, starting the EJ200 and, of course, pumping the High Test Peroxide (HTP) through to the Falcon rocket. The pump has to move a ton of HTP through to the rocket catalyst in 22 seconds and at 1200 psi.

“Can I get a light?”

For now, Bloodhound SSC faces a set of unusual challenges, a key one being where to run it. As well as issues such as road surface alkalinity, notes Green, considerations include:

• Size. A minimum of 10 miles continuous unobstructed smooth surface, plus over-run areas, and a usable track width of over 1 mile to provide a good safety margin.

• Surface characteristics. Consistency, flatness, a hard load-nearing surface. As a guide, we are looking for a Cone Index (hardness measurement) of 130+. In other words, a surface in which a vehicle will only leave shallow surface marks and no ruts of any kind.

• Debris. Minimal surface debris (stones, etc.).

• Weather. A reliable period of dry surface for at least 3 months each year.

However, that’s just the track. We also need to get there, live there, operate a prototype jet car there, and keep in touch with the outside world, so there are some other considerations:

• Desert access. Vehicle, support equipment and team access to the surface.

• Security. A permissive local security environment and reasonable personnel and equipment protection requirements.

• Life support. Local accommodation, food, water, etc., within a reasonable distance

• Engineering support. Local engineering support will be very useful for the Car if modifications are required.

• Political factors. National country support, environmental restrictions, export licence restrictions, etc.

• Connectivity. Communications, PR and media access.

Noble’s team has narrowed their choices down to one of 14 prospective desert sites, as with two alternatives. But whatever they come up with, Britain’s Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Green says the project is already a success:

“I’ve met graduate engineers who are adamant that our previous record was what inspired their career choice as youngsters. That sort of thing makes all the effort worthwhile. Bloodhound SSC will be so much faster and, we hope, will fire up every school kid about the science and technology. We’re going to invite everyone to follow our adventure in this, the most exciting and extreme form of motorsport – the world land speed record. Both as a mathematician, and as a Royal Air Force Fighter Pilot, I can’t think of anything better.”

I can: Drivin’ that sucker.



There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment