Thursday, 23 October 2008

1050mph - Wheels on the ground

October 15th 1997 Thrust SSC hit not only a record breaking speed of 763mph (1228km/h)at ground level but it also passed through the sound barrier in the process. It was powered by two afterburning Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines, as used in British F-4 Phantom II jet fighters. This was a simply astounding thing to accomplish and it answered a question about what would happen when a vehicle passed through the sound barrier when still in contact with the ground. There was some question as to whether the shock wave produced would disrupt the cars aerodynamics and cause it to lose contact with the ground. Clearly this was not an issue and they went on to take the world record.

The SSC team responsible for the Thrust vehicle has now set their sights even higher. Their new project is called Bloodhound SSC and the target this time is 1050mph. This time they are approaching the challenge with a different formula - one engine and a big rocket strapped to it's back. It's an age old approach that has repeatedly gotten great big spaceships into orbit so I guess it stands to reason that doing the same to a little pencil shaped car could have a positive effect.

The jet engine for the Bloodhound is taken from a Eurofighter (actually donated to the team as it was originally destined for a museum) which will take the car to 300mph and then a bespoke rocket engine will carry the car to the intended 1050mph. The car will once again be piloted by the Thrust SSC pilot Wing Commander Andy Green. The attempt is due to take place in 2011.

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