The Bloodhound Super Sonic Car (SSC) hurtled down the runway of an airport in Newquay, southwest England, in front of a crowd of several thousand people.
Driven by Royal Air Force Wing Commander Andy Green, the car completed two successful runs along the 1.7-mile runway, pushing over the 200-mph mark in eight seconds.
It was powered along by a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, normally found on a Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft. “This produced a peak thrust of 20,000 pounds (90 kilonewtons), equivalent to 54,000 thrust horsepower, or the combined output of 360 family cars,” according to the Bloodhound team.
To give the vehicle a chance of entering the record books, Bloodhound’s team of British Formula One and aerospace experts plans to attach a rocket motor that’s currently being developed by Scandinavian firm Nammo. The attempt could take place in 2020 in Hakskeen Pan — a vast, dried-out lake bed — in Northern Cape, South Africa.
If all goes to plan, the Bloodhound will reach a stomach-churning 1,000 mph, shattering the current land speed record set in 1997 that stands at 763.035 mph. The vehicle was the Thrust SSC and in the driving seat for that record-breaking run 20 years ago was the very same guy behind the wheel of the Bloodhound this week, Andy Green.
And don’t believe for a minute that Green simply sits there flooring the gas pedal and clenching his buttocks, though admittedly the latter may be more instinctive than deliberate. According to the commentators watching this week’s test run, he’s “managing things like brake pressures and brake temperatures, and as he brings the engine up, checking things like fuel flows … there will [also] be steering going on so even with a very slight crosswind he’ll have to correct the steering of the car as he goes down the runway. So there’s a huge amount of input and a huge amount of work.”
Following the Bloodhound’s latest outing, Green said, “The car is already working faster and better than we expected,” describing it as “responsive, stable, and above all, incredibly fast.” He added that although the Bloodhound had gone far slower on Wednesday than its target speed, the run had been “a proper workout for the vehicle.”
The Bloodhound project began in 2008, partly as an initiative to inspire children to take up STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The educational focus continues to play a big part in the team’s work as it makes steady progress toward its dream of securing that world record.