23 October 2008

Bloodhound gang

Richard Noble and Andy Green shoot for 1000mph

Bloodhound

Once you’re the fastest man on Earth, what do you do? Go faster. Pilot Andy Green and other brains behind the 763mph Thrust SSC project back in 1997 are building a new car – this time to break the 1000mph mark.

Bloodhound isn’t just about building a quick car,” Andy told us. “Our main concern is education – we want this to be inspire kids to get into engineering. What better way to spark-up enthusiasm than building a 1000 mph car, then building the theory behind it into the National Curriculum?”
 
Yep, good thinking. There’s more. They’re going to build Bloodhound in Bristol (in the same place as Concorde), in full public gaze. Yep – you’ll actually be able to visit and see it being put together. That’s what we call education.
 
Green, along with entrepeneur Richard Noble are proper speed-record heroes. Their Thrust cars were both record-breakers, and Thrust SSC’s 763 mph is the fastest speed ever recorded on land.
 
Bloodhound will be even more spectacular. The car is 12.8-metres long, weighs 6,400kg and has uses the Typhoon jet engine from a Eurofighter, along with rocket and piston-engine propulsion. So it’s a hybrid!

So what about the name?
 
“The name Bloodhound actually comes from the project’s codename,” he says. “The chief aerodynamicist behind it worked on the Britain’s ‘Bloodhound’ missile during the Cold War, so we named it after that and it just stuck.”
 
So what’s the biggest challenge, we asked him? “Sponsorship”, he said. “The technology is almost there – and far more advanced than ever before – but funding it is the hard bit. We start testing the rocket engine next week, and then need to find someone to forge the wheels from titanium.
 
“Then we’ll just need to find somewhere big enough. Nevada’s Black Rock desert is too dry and dusty at the moment, so it needs to be washed away if we’re to use it. But we actually need less space than before – the car accelerates with such brutality, that it’ll do 1000mph in seven miles. We needed 10 in Thrust.”
 
Once they’ve found somewhere, the team will kick things off next year with an 800mph attempt, followed by a 900mph run in 2010, and the full-beans 1000mph in 2011.
 
Andy is a jet-fighter pilot, so he’s pretty cool, calm and used to extreme speed. But he admits, the driver will be “Cooked, vibrated, deafened and subjected to massive g-force”.
 
And consider this: 1000mph is literally faster than a speeding bullet. “If you shot at me with a hand gun, the bullet would just gently nudge into the back of the car,” Green says.
 
But let’s hope nobody tries, cos we’d like to see him succeed.

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