The thrill of speed is something that a LOT of gear heads find addicting. Pushing the limits right out to the edge, which is different for everyone. I mean, anyone who has found themselves on a large hill riding a bicycle knows that 35-40 mph can feel damn fast. When it comes to motorized movement, the limits go up a bit. For normal people, that seems to be anything over 85 mph. For some of us (gear heads), it can be a little higher. Like not even in the three digit miles per hour range. I am not one of those people. The crew over at Bloodhound Programme Ltd seem to fall into that category of crazies. My first thought of trying to go over 1000 miles an hour is generally just a long string of expletives.
Well, Bloodhound Programme Ltd is shooting to break their own record in 2016. In 1997, the Thrust SSC set the current record of 763 mph in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. I remember reading about this at the time. The Thrust SSC (which is a British vehicle) and its main competitor, the Spirit of America, were duking it out for the title of World’s Fastest Land Speed Car. The Brits took the title and the scene went dormant for the majority of us. The Brits aren’t done yet though. They have formed another group, switched to a hybrid rocket motor from a turbofan, and found an even better place to tear holes in the air.
The new motor is a hybrid rocket developed by Nammo Aerospace, based out of Norway. The Bloodhound will use a cluster of three of these to achieve its goal of 1000 mph. Check out the video below for test firing. According to Bloodhound, “Hybrid rockets are a safe, controllable, low-cost and green alternative for rocket propulsion.” This seems like a logical step beyond the giant, Rolls-Royce turbofan engines used in the Thrust SSC. These rockets won’t take over until after 300 mph though. Before that, the Bloodhound will be using a retired Eurofighter jet engine to gather speed. There is one motor engine (that’s 3 separate engine systems!) that drives the rocket’s oxidizer pump. For that seemingly small duty a Jaguar 550 hp supercharged V8 is used!
Next summer the team is planning to make an initial pass on the flattest place on the planet, a dry lake in South Africa. There “slow” first run will be a leisurely 800 mph. This easily breaks the standing record but the plan is to make the 1000 mph run in 2016. Keep yours eyes peeled as this should be interesting.