Bolted firmly to the ground inside a specially reinforced shelter in Newquay, south-west England, the rocket fired up for 10 seconds (video below), making a noise exceeding 180 decibels, with a BBC report describing it as the loudest noise ever made in the UK.
The successful test means the team behind the Bloodhound supersonic car is set to go ahead with plans to break the current 763mph (1,228km/h) land speed record next year. If that succeeds, Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green will get behind the wheel and attempt to break the 1000mph (1,610km/h) barrier in 2014.
Daniel Jubb, who helped design the rocket engine, was delighted with the test. “It went very well,” he told the BBC. “The initial analysis suggests the rocket performed beyond our expectations.”
Chief engineer Mark Chapman explained that the test demonstrated the team were serious about its endeavor, showing to the outside world that “we are about real engineering; we’re not just doing CAD (computer aided design) work all the time.”
Three engines – the hybrid rocket engine, a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine and a Cosworth Formula 1 engine – will combine to generate the thrust and power to move the car at record-breaking speeds.
The Bloodhound project started in 2008 as part of an initiative to inspire children to take up so-called STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
One of the greatest challenges for the project is maintaining a steady stream of funding. The private venture receives money from sponsors, plus around £25,000 ($40,000) a month in donations from the public, though this needs to continue for at least the next couple of years to prevent the Bloodhound project and its rocket engine from fizzling out.
After Wednesday’s successful test, however, the team behind Bloodhound will be hoping for a smooth ride through to 2014 when it plans to push the supersonic car beyond the 1000mph barrier.