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Faster than a speeding bullet - world's first 1000-mph supersonic car "Bloodhound" to be built by British engineers


By WcP.Scientific.Mind - Posted on 24 October 2008

the car is designed not just to break the world land speed record – 763mph – but to obliterate it

(quote)

British engineers have unveiled plans for the world's first 1,000-mph car, a muscular streak of gunmetal and orange designed not to break the world land speed record but to shatter it. Bloodhound SSC, named after the British cold war supersonic air defence missiles, will attempt to beat the existing record by more than 250mph.

The £12m car is to be announced today by Lord Drayson, the science minister. Working from an aircraft hangar in Bristol, the team's engineers have been working on the project in secret for the past 18 months. Calculations suggest the car could reach 1,050mph, fast enough to outrun a bullet from a .357 Magnum revolver. The car was proposed by Drayson, a racing car enthusiast, as a project to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers, who are in desperately short supply in UK. The Bloodhound team plans to have the car built within a year, with the record attempt expected in three years.

Bloodhound is named after the supersonic missiles that served as Britain's air defenses at the start of the Cold War

The project brings together mathematician and fighter pilot Andy Green, who set the current land speed record of 763mph with Thrust SSC in 1997, and Richard Noble, who directed that attempt. The car will be the first to meld a jet engine for a Eurofighter Typhoon with a rocket booster. Together they will produce 20,000kg (45,000lb) of thrust. "It's an opportunity to do something extraordinary in engineering terms and to be part of the very best land speed record attempt in the world," said Green, 46. "It's more Buck Rogers than Wacky Races."

Green, an RAF wing commander, will use an accelerator to power the jet engine up to speeds of around 350 mph and then fire the solid rocket booster. At that point, a V-12 racing car engine will start pumping more than a tonne of hydrogen peroxide into the booster, forcing the car to 1,000mph in 20 seconds. "It's going to be quite uncomfortable. Where I sit will be just under the intake of the jet engine, so it's going to be acoustically quite challenging," he said, adding: "If I was worried I wouldn't be doing it, but I only met my wife last year, so it might be a scary experience for her." Slowing down will also be a significant challenge. The car will use airbrakes and two parachutes to bring it to a rest after each run.

the car will be the first to combine a Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine with a rocket booster. Between them they will produce a staggering 45,000lb of thrust

Team members are now visiting sites where the record attempt will be made. The current record was set at Black Rock Desert in Nevada. But that has been ruled out as ground conditions there have deteriorated since 1997. In the next week or two, Green will visit a site in South Africa. Other possible venues are the salt flats of the US and Australia. John Piper, the lead engineer on the project, said the team would build a full-size mock-up of the vehicle over the next month. The project is being funded by five sponsors, including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Swansea University and the University of the West of England.

It is an enormous engineering challenge. At speed, the car will experience pressures of 12 tonnes a square metre, similar to those experienced by submarines. The wheels will spin more than five times faster than those on a formula one racing car, generating forces that could rip them to pieces. Engineers must ensure there are no gaps around the cockpit. If there are, all of the air inside it could be sucked out as the car breaks the sound barrier. Several other teams are already building cars to challenge the land speed record. One, which was led by the late entrepreneur and adventurer Steve Fossett, is thought to be capable of more than 800mph.

the car was proposed by UK science minister and racing car enthusiast Lord Drayson as an iconic project to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers

Drayson said that throughout the development of the Bloodhound, the team would make all of its information public, so other scientists and engineers can get involved. "Having the right stuff in the 21st century means being able to understand the world about you. We don't have enough young people taking science and math and the real deficiency is they don't understand what careers they could do, what a life for them would mean if they took those subjects. These are difficult subjects and we have to give young people a clear reason for studying them," he said.

The Science Museum in London is now holding a week-long exhibition dedicated to Bloodhound. "If we produce a 900mph car and every schoolkid in the country really gets into it, and it makes a difference to how they feel, and how the nation feels about scientists and engineers, without whom we can't live in a hi-tech world, we've done something really good. If we produce a 1,000mph car and nobody gives a shit, we've failed," said Green.

Green holds the current land speed record of 763mph – set in a car called Thrust SSC in 1997. Bloodhound SSC could beat that by more than 250mph. ‘It's more Buck Rogers than Wacky Races,’ says Green

North American Eagle Ed Shadle's 1960s jet fighter with the wings removed and some wheels bolted on. The project's aim is to reach 800mph. Spirit of America Steve Fossett's car was close to completion when he went missing last year. The 800mph vehicle could be ready to go for the record next year if a new buyer is found. Aussie Invader 5R Rosco McGlashan's rocket car is about two years away from making a 1,000mph attempt.

(unquote)

Images courtesy of Curventa

Original Source: Guardian, UK

Video: Computer-generated animation of a British-designed car aiming to break the land speed record

Image Gallery: A History of the Land Speed Record

Related Articlea: Supersonic car targets 1,000mph and Shock-Wave Showdown in the Old West

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