Experts to test rocket for 1000 mph Bloodhound supersonic car for first time
Today is a landmark day in British engineering as Newquay Cornwall Airport provides the playground for the supersonic Bloodhound’s first test run.
The car’s driver, Wing Commander Andy Green, says it represents “the largest rocket firing in the UK for over 20 years”.
Green was at the wheel when the current land speed record, of 763 mph, was set in 1997 in the desserts of Nevada in the jet-propelled ThrustSCC. The ThrustSCC became the first car to break the sound barrier in the process.
A specialist raceway is being constructed in South Africa to help the Bloodhound on its quest to reach speeds upwards of 1000mph. At this stage, it is expected that the Bloodhound will soon smash the record set by the ThrustSCC.
As with the ThrustSCC project, the Bloodhound project has seen heavy RAF involvement, and this latest project will be supported by a team of five specialist royal engineers. The Bloodhound’s rocket is powered by a Cosworth engine, making it “the largest hybrid rocket in the world”. Temperatures inside the rocket itself will reach 3000°C.
The Bloodhound’s construction involves numerous other “engineering world firsts”. Made from composite materials much like those found in modern Formula One racing cars, in many ways its construction is more like an aeroplane than a car.
However, chief engineer Mark Chapman was keen to emphasise that the project’s main aim is to help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. An engineering example for education, the rocket-car, on its first test-drive today, is about inspiring young people as much as it is an attempt to re-emphasise British dominance in the area of specialised vehicle engineering.