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British Aim to Break 1000 MPH With Bloodhound SSC

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On: Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 8:52AM | By: Chris Weiss

British Aim to Break 1000 MPH  With Bloodhound SSC

The Bloodhound SSC is on its way toward becoming the fastest "car" in the world, with plans to make it the first wheeled vehicle to boast four-figure speeds. A model of the British streamliner recently made its debut at the U.K.'s Farnborough International Airshow. Measuring about 42 feet long, the model gives a sneak peak of what type of space-age voodoo will be employed to break the current absolute land speed record by over 200 mph.

If you look in the record books today, you'll see that the absolute land speed record set in the Black Rock Desert more than 10 years ago stands at a towering 763 mph. For anyone that's ever driven 150 mph or even 100 mph, that seems like unimaginable speed in a land-based vehicle. But for the team of automotive engineers that made it possible, it's more of a starting point, a gauntlet to do better. You see, it was their vehicle—the ThrustSSC—that set the record back in 1997, surpassing the previous record—also held by the Thrust team—by over 130 mph, while becoming the first land vehicle to break the speed of sound (761 mph). The average group of mortals would be pretty satisfied with that lofty feat, but this particular engineering team, along with its 166 sponsors, simply shifted its goals higher, undertaking the monumental objective of breaking the 1,000 mph mark three years ago.

Today, the Bloodhound SSC is a dart-like vehicle of NASA-esque proportions that's currently on its 10th iteration. Powering the supersonic needle is a combination of rocket and jet power. According to the team: "We have chosen a jet and hybrid rocket. The reasoning is that we need the rocket for its raw power and lack of draggy air intake, but the downside is that the rocket is an on/off device and with rocket power alone we would have real difficulty hitting and holding selected Mach numbers for the aerodynamicists to gain their data. And at these speeds we have to tread very carefully, increasing the Mach numbers in small, careful steps."

The jet power comes by way of the Eurojet EJ200, built for the Eurofighter Typhoon. The rocket involved is a 882-lb. hybrid, liquid/solid-propelled rocket that sits below the jet engine. In order to start the massive jet engine, a third powerplant is needed; that model is an 800-hp MCT V12 race engine that starts the jet engine and pushes High Test Peroxide to the rocket. All that engine power combines to create an absolutely staggering 130,000 horsepower worth of sheer muscle.

Harnessing all that raw horsepower into an efficient vehicle no small task. According to its creators, the Bloodhound employs a revolutionary shape designed to minimize drag while boosting stability and shock absorption. To reduce supersonic drag, the team employed the vessel's unmistakably sharp shape and wheel covers. A small fin compromises the goals of stability and minimization of crosswind interference. Small winglets over the wheels make split-second adjustments to keep even load on all four wheels.

The incredible feat of engineering that has come to be known simply as the Bloodhound SSC will begin testing in 2012. The team has an eventual target speed of 1050 mph and expects the Bloodhound to make the first-ever 0 to 1,000 mph sprint in 42 seconds.

The team presented the 1:1 model of the Bloodhound SSC for the first time today in Farnborough. The three-piece model was crafted from polystyrene blocks and given six coats worth of aerospace paint. It weighs in over one ton.

More than just a land-speed project, the Bloodhound is serving as an educational platform for schoolchildren. Nearly 4,000 schools and universities have signed up to take part in the BLOODHOUND Education Programme, which augments classroom learning in math, science, engineering, and technology through real-world case studies from the build.

The land speed record landscape should be even more exciting than usual for the next few years...

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