No matter how well you plan, putting together a project that involves a vehicle that can travel at more than 1,600km/h (1,000mph) is always going to create issues.
That has certainly been the case for the team behind the Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) which was due to undertake its first runs at the Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape this month. In June we reported on delays caused by an engine which acts as a fuel pump to the rocket engine. The problem was fixed but then the team found that the engine ran too efficiently and had to make further changes.
It was not the first delay, but now the team behind the project has revealed the final vehicle that will attempt its first run at the pan in October 2016. The product of eight years of research, design and manufacturing, involving more than 350 companies and universities, the car was the centrepiece of an exhibition in London recently. The 13.5m long streamliner uses jet and rocket motors to produce about 135,000hp of thrust.
This is more than nine times the power output of all cars in Formula One combined and makes Bloodhound the world’s most powerful land vehicle. It was shown in record attempt configuration, with its 2m high tail fin, required for stability at high speed, in place for the first time. Carbon fibre panels were partially removed on one side to show the technology inside the car, including the Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine and supercharged Jaguar V8 engine used to pump oxidiser into the Nammo rocket.
Many were able to have their first look inside the finished cockpit — a huge and complex monocoque (single piece shell) crafted from multiple layers of carbon fibre to produce what is probably the strongest safety cell ever fitted to a racing car. Inside there is a sophisticated digital dashboard, designed by the driver, Andy Green, as well as manual back-ups for the major controls. They are there because the vehicle has not been designed simply to reach 1,000mph: it must do so safely.
That is why the car has three separate braking systems, seven fire extinguishers and 500 sensors, twice as many as an F1 car, so engineers will know exactly how it is performing during each high speed run. Castrol is providing hi-tech lubricants and custom-made Rolex Instruments provide another layer of redundancy.
Should the digital readouts fail, Green will use these clocks to time the release of the car’s parachutes and when to apply the wheel brakes. If he brings them in too soon, at speeds above 250mph they could burst into flames. The car has been created by a team of Formula One and aerospace experts with assistance from the British Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and technicians from the Royal Air Force’s 71 Squadron who built the tail fin.
Organisers say Bloodhound is not just a racing car — it is also a supersonic TV studio. There are 12 cameras built into the vehicle, including two inside the cockpit. When the team is racing for its first record next year in SA, audiences will enjoy the same view as Green and see the same information. They will know how the car is balanced, the temperatures in the engines, the speed through the measured mile.
Sharing the experience in this way, and all the data coming from the car, is a core principle of the project and central to its mission of inspiring a future generation about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The team is delivering results before the car even turns a wheel, with more than 100,000 children in the UK alone doing Bloodhound lessons or attending events each year. There have also been numerous events in SA.
The organisers used the event to show the team’s six wheel drive Supacat-Angloco support truck and the mission control trailer, where every high speed run will be co-ordinated. There were also two Jaguar rapid response vehicles made by the manufacturer’s Special Vehicle Operations division. Project director Richard Noble said: “Public interest in the project is incredible and thanks to the support of our partners we are able to bring Bloodhound SSC to London and put it on show. With the car built and the track in SA prepared, our focus is on racing in 2016. That starts with runway tests at Newquay Aerohub next Easter.”
The tests will allow the team to assess various engineering factors before the vehicle takes to the pan in the Northern Cape next year to do its first run to 1,207km/h (800mph). If successful, that run will break the existing world land speed record, but the ultimate aim will be to return to this country in 2017 and hit that elusive 1,000mph.
*This article first appeared on Business day Motor News
-Motor News Reporter