Above: The Bloodhound supersonic car reaching 491 mph prior to its 501 mph run.
The Bloodhound supersonic car project that appeared to be dead and buried a year ago is very much back on track — and gathering speed.
On Wednesday the jet- and rocket-powered vehicle blasted through the 500-mph barrier in the latest of a series of test runs this week at the Hakskeenpan salt pan in southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert.
The final speed was clocked at a breathtaking 501 mph (806 kph), but that’s nowhere near fast enough for the Bloodhound team, which is aiming for a 2020 effort to smash the current car speed record of 763 mph. That was set in 1997 by Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green, who was also behind the wheel for Wednesday’s run.
A video (below) posted on Twitter by the team shows Bloodhound screaming along the dry lake bed in its fastest test run yet.
#BloodhoundLSR has just gone 501mph! #2019HST pic.twitter.com/HL3Fraid2M
— Bloodhound LSR (@Bloodhound_LSR) November 6, 2019
The U.K.-based Bloodhound project launched in 2008 but last year was close to collapse when the team ran out of money. Fortunately, a British businessman stepped in at the last moment with a hefty cash injection to keep the dream of a speed record alive.
Renamed Bloodhound LSR (land speed record), the team headed to South Africa last month for a series of test runs that increased the speed of the car by 50 mph each time, taking it well beyond its 200-mph outings achieved in 2017 and culminating in Wednesday’s astonishing 501-mph run.
For the latest tests, Bloodhound used solid aluminum wheels for the first time, with the design able to better handle the extreme pressures and forces than regular rubber tires.
The 13.5-meter-long vehicle draws its power from a combination of jet and rocket engines. These include a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet — also found on a Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft — that pushes Bloodhound to 300 mph. The rest of the power comes from several hybrid rockets from Scandinavian defense contractor Nammo.
The team plans to return to the Kalahari Desert next year to go for the land speed record attempt, with Andy Green once again climbing behind the wheel in a bid to surpass his own previous best.
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