Rocket for supersonic 'hybrid car' passes first test
An artist's rendering from Curventa and Siemens shows the BLOODHOUND SSC.
October 4th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

Rocket for supersonic 'hybrid car' passes first test

The rocket that will help power a 1,000-mph car passed its first test Wednesday, British engineers say.

The project is dubbed Bloodhound SSC. Its organizers plan for the pencil-shaped car to be zooming along the South African desert next year and break the world land speed record of 763 mph.

"The initial indications are that it went very well indeed," the rocket's designer, self-taught engineer Daniel Jubb, 28, told the Western Morning News in Cornwall, England, where the rocket was tested inside a hangar at a Royal Air Force base.

Engineers were looking over reams of data from the test to determine their next steps.

Jubb calls the Bloodhound's power plant a hybrid system, but it's not the type you'd find on your uncle's Prius.

It's a hybrid because the rocket uses a solid fuel, which is a synthetic rubber, and turns it into an aerosol with with a high-test peroxide and catalyst of fine silver mesh. The fuel is actually fired into the rocket by a Cosworth engine of the type found in Formula One race cars. Then all that power is combined with the thrust from a jet engine like the ones on Typhoon fighter planes.

The rocket hybrid produced 14,000 pounds of thrust on Wednesday. That's the equivalent of about 40,000 horsepower. The additional thrust from the  fighter jet engine will give the car a total of 135,000 horsepower. In contrast, the Prius hybrid system produces 134 horsepower. The engine of a NASCAR Sprint Cup race car produces about 750 horsepower. So Bloodhound will have the power of 180 NASCAR cars, or four times the entire starting grid at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.

Driving the Bloodhound on the South African test track will be Andy Green, a Royal Air Force pilot with experience flying Tornado fighters over Bosnia, Iraq and the Falklands.

The organizers of the Bloodhound project hope to do more than set a land speed record. They're hoping it helps change Britain by inspiring young people to take up engineering.

"It is very important in the UK that we address the shortage of engineers. Less than an hour before we fired that rocket we had children in there asking questions, I hope that helps inspire the next generation," the Western Morning News quoted Jubb as saying.

When the project was launched in 2008, organizers also said it would "also be the catalyst for a raft of cutting-edge research in fields such as aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, materials technology, composite manufacturing and sustainable high-tech engineering."

So maybe we'll be motoring around on solid aluminum wheels one day. That's how the Bloodhound will travel. It will be going so fast that it can't use conventional wheels. Instead, the four wheels, two inside the nose and two set outside the frame at the rear, will be made completely of aluminum. They'll weigh about 210 pounds each and spin at 10,000 rpm.

Meanwhile, before the British group can go for a 1,000-mph record, an American outfit hopes to try to push the current mark to beat a bit higher.

North American Eagle says on its website that it plans to run a turbojet-powered vehicle across a Western desert at 771 mph some time this year.

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Filed under: Automobiles • South Africa • Technology • United Kingdom
soundoff (180 Responses)
  1. Sinfully Yours

    And why would we need a car that travels at 1000mph?! Are you in that much of a hurry to get to work?

    October 4, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • That would be the way to go

      Stupid question. Its like asking "why would we need to go to the moon" – strictly speaking, we dont "need" this car, but if you tried reading the article, you would discover that it is about technological development, inspiring the next generation, etc. and not about "needing" a 1000 mph car.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Connie

      maybe I can use it on the new texas toll road-speed limit will be 85 :):)

      October 4, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. saywhat

    Good question @Sinfully Yours.
    But then the super rich have to have their toys, for them my friend.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Colinmb

      You obviously know absolutely nothing about the Bloodhound Project. They are far from "super rich".

      October 4, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Pete

    Finally a way to cross a large salt flat quickly!

    October 4, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. Russ

    Anything can go wrong, so though they may have the engine, there is no guarantee that they can keep the vehicle upright.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Russ, at those speeds, I think the challenge is to keep the vehicle "downright". That is, to keep the wheels on the ground and prevent it from going airborne.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Hide Behind

    To those who love the extremes and believe in American ingenuity that gathered at Shelton Wa and heard that engine roar it was actually fun.
    A lady will pilot the jet auto whatever and unlike the Brit version our US is not fully financed by our government, instead ours The American Eagle does have corporate sponsorship but I would say those who built and maintain are not super rich, well to do yes but only by msking their money the hard way, by work
    .Leader of team Boeing engineer as are most of team.
    Do we need a land vehicle that goes that fast, while many say no, I think we need the Spirit they who are in this project to last forever.To those who say why I say because they want to.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • cedar rapids

      "and unlike the Brit version our US is not fully financed by our government"

      Bloodhound isnt fully financed by the government, not even close, they are relying big time on donations and sponsors.

      October 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mcbain95

    I wonder how they'll get pulled over for speeding lol

    October 4, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. IndyCar

    God speed to bloodhound and the crew. Time to crush the LSR.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Hide Behind

    Oh and as a PS: Nice day in a very beautifull part of state, and to those not land bound and look above their noses at anything outside their likes and dislikes as unworthy of bother, in the sky before and after event there were real American Eagles flying about.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jai

    This has nothing to do with the super rich having toys, mainly because you will never see something like this for sale. It's about pushing the limits of engineering. You don't learn anything without projects like these.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Wilson

    For some reason...the movie..The Great Race comes to mind where Professor Fate starts up a rocket power train car...and after it reached a certain speed...it ends up airborne..only to fall into farmer's pig slop.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. Richp

    Good luck and god speed.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. Barry G.

    Nice ride!

    I wonder what kind of gas mileage it gets.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chuck

    Gary Gabelich is looking down and smiling!

    October 4, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. KW

    Can't wait for them to jack the speed limit to 800+ MPH. My rocket car will be handy for getting around on those pot-hole riddled highways & back country roads. Shouldn't be any problems whatsoever.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tom

    I wonder how well it performs in the streets of the London city center.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
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