Bloodhound Supersonic Car Edges Towards Land Speed Record Attempt
It only seems like yesterday that I reported on the supersonic jet-propelled Bloodhound SSC reaching 210mph on the runway at Newquay Airport in Cornwall. But that was two years ago in November 2017; 9 years after the Bloodhound project was officially announced in October 2008.
Fast forward to November 2019 and Bloodhound is back in the news once more. Only this time the Bloodhound is now a 500mph supersonic car. The glamour of a 20km long test track at Hakskeenpan, a mud and salt pan in the Kalahari Desert, has taken over from Newquay Airport, and Bloodhound has now clocked a 501mph run on a blisteringly hot 37-degree day.
Wing Commander Andy Green of the Royal Air Force is still the designated driver, and naturally enough he was ‘chuffed to bits’ with this latest run, superseding November 2017’s 210mph run by adding a giant 291mph onto that figure – though it is still some way short of the existing land speed record of 763mph.
That long-standing record is now 22 years old, and the Bloodhound team feel that they are edging closer to a full land speed record attempt in the not too distant future – possibly next year.
Bloodhound is still powered by a Rolls Royce Typhoon EJ200 jet engine, but to increase its speed capability to something akin to the current record, the supersonic car will require the addition of a rocket motor.
Breaking the land speed record is one thing – and the team hasn’t ruled out a rocket powered Bloodhound eventually reaching 1,000mph – but stability and safety is paramount, and at such increasing speeds this becomes an ever more important factor.
Stopping a car that is travelling at more than 500mph is no mean feat, and part of the testing in the Kalahari looked at how to bring the supersonic car to a halt within set parameters – or at least learning exactly how long the runway needs to be to allow the car to stop safely. Such science involves investigating the use of brake chutes.
Currently, Bloodhound has two brake chutes set to activate as the car slows from 500mph down through 400mph. Though as simple as this sounds, the drag from such parachutes can affect the car’s stability, and so far Andy Green has experienced some issues with the car’s handling becoming unstable due to these chutes opening – certainly not something you want to happen at such speeds.
The speed that Bloodhound cuts through the air has also caused issues with the chassis, as the fast travelling air has managed to bend the chassis metal that sits around the rear suspension.
Expect the unexpected, this is what the technical team say, and they are prepared to tackle whatever new obstacle the car throws at them, coming up with solutions as each issue materialises. Though what they are expecting is that in Bloodhound’s next run, the car reaches around 550mph, with a possible speed of 600mph not being entirely ruled out.
Breaking a land speed record that has stood for 22 years is going to be no mean feat, but if anyone can do it, surely Andy Green can. After all, Andy was the driver of Thrust SSC, the supersonic car that currently holds that record.
Images: techxplore.com, motorauthority.com
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