Newquay, Cornwall - The world’s most advanced straight-line racing car, Bloodhound SSC, will finally be driven for the first time in October, 20 years after the current record of 1228km/h was set.
Wing Commander Andy Green steered Thrust SSC to that speed on 15 October 1997, and will be at the wheel of the Bloodhound SSC as it’s put through its paces at Cornwall Airport Newquay, in the UK in October.
Runway trials will mark the culmination of a month of tests to prove the car’s steering, brakes, suspension, data systems, and so on, as well as the EJ200 jet engine, sourced from a Eurofighter Typhoon.
Thousands of visitors are expected to watch as it's driven at speeds of up to 320km/h on the 2.7 kilometre runway, in the first tangible evidence that the project is back on track after years of delays, mostly due to funding issues.
Project director Richard Noble said: “It’s frustrating to change our schedule again, but our pace of development has to be pegged to the flow of funding.
“We have recently agreed new partnerships with a global IT company and a leading fashion brand, but there is inevitably a time delay between pledges of support, contracts being signed and cash arriving.”
One of the problems is that the power of the Bloodhound’s rocket engine - it has both jet and rocket power - will have to be increased to provide a performance margin in case the complete car, which has evolved over many years from the original design, is heavier than estimated.
The project has been further delayed by flooding at Hakskeenpan in the Kalahari, the site chosen for the world land speed record attempt, in January 2017 and again in March.
The new plan, allowing time for final preparation of the track in case of more flooding during the 2018 rainy season, is to send an advance party to the Kalahari in mid-2018, and begin Bloodhound’s first World Land Speed Record campaign in the second half of 2018. The aim will be to achieve 1000mph (or 1609km/h).
Before it moves under its own power, Bloodhound SSC must undergo several days of static “tie-down” tests in which the jet engine will be run up with the car chained to the ground.
Knowing how soon full power can be applied minimises this risk, while having “real world” acceleration data will enable chief aerodynamicist Ron Ayers, to plan the sequence of runs at Hakskeenpan that, it is hoped, will result in a new world land speed record.
Project director Richard Noble, project director, said: “The runway trials at Cornwall Airport Newquay will be the biggest milestone in the history of the project. They will provide important data on the performance of the car and give us a first opportunity to rehearse the procedures we’ll use when we go record breaking.”
He said it was also a way to say “thank you” to the schools, students, families and companies, big and small, who supported the project.
“With the car running, we can showcase science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the most exciting way possible,” he said.