Bloodhound SSC – Going for Supersonic Speeds
Bloodhound SSC is the most intriguing car ever built by human hands. This year could be witness to the fastest land speed record ever achieved. Bold Brits Richard Noble and driver Andy Green are set to run their new car “Bloodhound SSC” later this year on a hand-cleared desert surface in a place called the Hakskeen Pan near the northern cape of South Africa. Their stated target is 1,000mph. That’s classified as supersonic speed checking in somewhere around MACH 2.
Green is a pilot in Britain’s RAF (Royal Air Force) and is the fastest man on earth. In 1997 driving Noble’s twin-engine, jet-powered Thrust SSC, Green ran 763 mph breaking the sound barrier out on the playa in Nevada’s Black Rock desert. Our contributor Cole Coonce was out there in the middle of the madness when Green made his thunderous breach into the record books and filed this brilliant story recapping the awe-inspiring events.
This in-cockpit video of Green reaching the speed of sound is stunning and scary as hell at the same time. The groaning sound of the wind going by the canopy is downright eerie. Green hits the throttles at the 1:54 mark in case you want to skip ahead.
Men like team owner Richard Noble are boundary pushers always looking for the next frontier, thus Bloodhound SSC was born in 2008. The next plateau in Noble’s relentless search for speed was the supersonic, 1,000mph barrier – nearly 33% faster than their 763mph blast. Bloodhound SSC was completed in 2013 and has undergone extensive tweaks since that time.
While the car and rocket engines were being tested, over three hundred South African volunteers cleared a 12-mile long, 2-mile wide course using their hands, shovels and buckets to clear rocks and other debris. The team will attempt their record runs there this summer. We hope to be on location when they light the wick.
So how would the Bloodhound team go about building a car that could theoretically reach 1,000mph? Basically, the same way they did with Thrust SSC. Through a combination of research and development, extreme engineering, horsepower and wind cheating design, the car went from CAD to reality. It measures 44-feet long, 9.2 feet tall and weighs 15,000lbs.
The horsepower situation is what interests us most. The pencil-shaped car, powered by a jet engine, a rocket engine and a supercharged Jaguar V8 which kick starts the rocket is designed to reach 1,050 miles per hour. When the 1,000psi rocket is fully lit, it will burn for approx. 20-seconds. It’s anyone’s guess whether it will hold together but preliminary tests just two months back on an airport tarmac at Cornwall in the U.K. proved promising even though speeds only reached 200mph. This video does a brilliant job of breaking down how the propulsion system is intended to work.
While some will scoff at the notion of a land based vehicle holding together and running 1,000mph, we suggest not taking this team lightly. Between Noble and Green, the two men have held the official world land speed record since 1983 when noble himself drove his first land speed car, Thrust II to 633mph.
With Noble’s brains and Green’s bravado, they stand a good chance of at least passing their prior mark of 763mph. How far past the speed of sound they’ll go is up to the laws of physics. We like their chances.