Sometime in 2017, the Bloodhound SSC could become the fastest car in the world. The previous record was set in 1997 by the Thrust SSC, driven by Wing Commander Andy Green, after the car achieved a “flying mile” speed of 763mph (1,227kph). This number, while impressive, fades when you hear the goal of the Bloodhound team: 1,000 mph, on land.
Getting to 1,000 mph (approximately Mach 1.3) is not a new feat for mankind — the fastest a human has ever travelled is over 24,000mph or Mach 31.5 — but problems occur when that speed is attempted on land. So far, no one has got anywhere close.
The Bristol-based Bloodhound team has spent the past decade working on the SSC, creating an entirely new educational curriculum aimed at re-inspiring UK youths into the sciences in the process. Due to the complexity of modelling the forces exerted on a vehicle at 1,000 mph, the team has relied heavily on computational analysis, breaking new ground, the knowledge gleaned from which has been shared globally.
Led by Richard Noble, the man responsible for almost all of the fastest speed runs in living memory, the team aims to create a car that is capable of not just exceeding the previous record, but adding on another 250 mph. What they are effectively doing is taking the world’s fastest car, the Thrust SSC, and adding on the speed of the world’s fastest production car, the Bugati Veyron Super Sport.
Here’s what it looks like.
The Bloodhound SSC is reminiscent of a fighter jet, differing only through the lack of wings and addition of four big, metal wheels at each corner.
Despite its aerodynamic design the car will experience over 17 tons of drag when it hits 1,000 mph, the equivalent of a humpback whale sitting on the front of the car.
The cockpit is barely big enough to house Wing Commander Andy Green, the man who will be making the 1,000mph run. Each aspect has been specifically designed for him, right down to the button placement on the steering 'wheel.'
The SSC is 13 meters (42 feet) long, 3 meters (10 feet) high at the top of its wing and weighs 7.7 tonnes (17,000 lbs) when fully fuelled.
Unlike previous record holding cars, the Bloodhound uses multiple engine types, including the jet engine previously found in the Eurofighter Typhoon and a cluster of rockets.
To keep all of this cool and working, the whole top of the car is dedicated to air intake. When the rockets are fired up, they could suck the air out of an average sized house in three seconds.
High-tech materials, such as carbon fibre, make up much of the car's body. The stresses exerted at 1,000 mph would break any lesser material and so the team had no choice but to include the composite metal.
In order to keep the car on the straight and narrow, the team has fitted a giant plane-like tail wing. In a previous run in the Thrust SSC days, Andy Green's car jumped 50 meters to the right at over 700 mph, something best avoided.
Getting enough fuel to the rocket is the hardest part: the Bloodhound team is using a V8 from a Jaguar just to pump it into the rockets.
The jet engine, a Rolls-Royce EJ200, is provided by the Ministry of Defence and is from a Eurofighter Typhoon. As a military jet, the Typhoon had to be compact meaning the engine is small enough to fit into the Bloodhound. Here you can look into the jet.
The Rolls-Royce-made jet produces 20,000 lbf which is the ratio of fuel usage to pounds of thrust. When the rockets are added into the equation, the Bloodhound has equivalent to 135,000 horsepower.
Almost every component is hand made, and the Bloodhound cost somewhere in the region of £15 million ($23 million) to produce.
A cross section of the car shows that every available centimetre of space is used to house something, while simultaneously improving the car's aerodynamics.
Having disk brakes on a car that does over 1,000 mph may seem strange, but they aide in stopping it once the run is over. Of course, the brakes are slightly sturdier than your average family car.
If the Bloodhound was pointed upward, it could reach an altitude of over 25,000 feet (4.7 miles) just from using its rockets and jets.
At full speed (around 10,200 rpm), each wheel experiences 50,000g of centrifugal force. This is enough to make a cube of sugar weigh as much as two grown men.
The Bloodhound team makes heavy use of 3D printing to test computer simulations. Here you can see a simulation of the air resistance at 1,000 mph. (Green is neutral, blue is negative pressure and red is positive pressure.)
All of the machinery in the cockpit is specifically crafted for the Bloodhound, with backup dials just in case the screens fail.
The steering 'wheel' -- which is reminiscent of a Formula One car -- has controls for the rocket, jets and brakes right within the reach of Green's thumbs.
The seat is moulded to Green's body and helps reduced the shocks and stresses that he could experience at 1,000 mph. The steering wheel, too, sends no feedback from the wheels to avoid injury.
Jaguar has been a big supporter of the Bloodhound project from the start, contributing technology, knowledge and the V8 engine used to pump fuel into the rockets and jet.
Each piece of bodywork, rivet and joint has been individually made for its specific place to ensure the car doesn't fall apart at top speed.
In order to fund the project, Green has opened up the car to sponsor ships, many of whom get their logo printed on the bodywork.
The initial run -- which takes place in 2016 and will see the car go to 800 mph -- is set to happen in South Africa, with the Bloodhound project creating a huge following in the country.
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