An attempt to smash the world land speed record has moved closer to reality, with a low-speed trial run expected later this year.
Bloodhound SSC (Super-Sonic Car), a cross between a car and a jet, has been in development for more than a decade. But on October 26, it will be driven for the first time at Cornwall Airport Newquay in the UK.
It is ultimately designed to travel more than 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 kilometers per hour), using a hybrid rocket engine to reach top speeds. On this run, however, it will travel at “only” 200 mph (320 km/h), using its EJ200 jet engine from a Eurofighter Typhoon to reach that goal.
“The runway trials at Cornwall Airport Newquay will be the biggest milestone in the history of the project so far,” Richard Noble, Project Director of Bloodhound, said in a statement.
“They will provide important data on the performance of the car and give us a first opportunity to rehearse the procedures we’ll use when we go record-breaking.”
One key goal of the tests will be to see how the car’s jet engine operates at these lower speeds. It is designed to work best at more than 800 mph (1,300 km/h), but the team needs to know at what speed it is intaking enough air to apply full power and switch to the rocket engine. This will not be done on this run.
The project has been plagued by delays, owing largely to construction and funding issues. Originally, the team had hoped to make the attempt at 1,000 mph this year, at the Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape region of South Africa. That is now planned for next year at the earliest, following an initial run at 800 mph.
When the car makes its land speed record attempt, it will take 55 seconds to reach top speed, and a further 65 seconds to slow down using conventional disc brakes and a parachute.
Driving the car publicly for the first time will be a huge achievement for the small company. Development of the vehicle has led to a number of technological breakthroughs; no one has attempted to travel at this speed on the ground before.
Currently, the world land speed record stands at 763 mph (1,228 km/h). This was set by the Thrust SSC vehicle in Nevada in 1997, driven by Andy Green – who is also the driver for Bloodhound.
While the initial goal is to break that record by traveling at 800 mph, the team are confident they will also break the 1,000 mph barrier. At these speeds, the ground underneath the car will behave like a fluid, and huge shockwaves will form behind it.
The public will be able to catch a glimpse of the trial run of Bloodhound in October, with tickets available for the event.