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. dan

    Most of you are completely missing the point. Most of the worlds greatest inventions were discovered while trying to accomplish something else. The Hybrid fuel propulsion system they are building to achieve this land speed record may someday be the beginning of the invention of the century. But if it was never may of never happened.

    October 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tim


    October 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2001 suzuki intruder 1400

      Meep! Meep! Roadrunner. 🙂

      October 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Greg

    Boy I hope it has an ejection seat!

    October 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rosie

    When can I buy a rocket car? I want a rocket car so I can get to work in 5 minutes. Oh and it needs to be able to plow through anything that gets in the way. Yep has to come with a plow.

    October 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rhope

      You must love your work, man!

      October 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • conrad shull

      Can I get one with four wheel drive? Guess the tow package would need some kinks worked out.

      October 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sam

    The articles fails to point out that Andy Green holds the current land speed record of just over the speed of sound in the Thrust SSC (not entirely relevant to the article about THIS car....but let's give the guy his props)....flying fighter jets obviously helps!

    Gonna be strange to see shock diamonds out the back of a car, tho!

    October 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rohitgopidi

    Amazing work !

    October 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. doughnuts

    I'll be impressed when they put in an Oscilation Overthruster and drive it through a mountain.

    October 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. popcorn

    Why do you need to RE-CREATE SUPER SUPER FAST CAR? isn't this enough?

    How come no one as looked back rocket cars in the past?

    October 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stuart

      This one is going to be going much faster than any in the past so a redesign is needed.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Buckaroo

    8th dimension here we come...

    October 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Serge

      It needs a flux capaciter too. Helloooooo!

      October 4, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. master of all. jack of none

    it's really not that hard to break wind... it's just doing it at a technologically higher level.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rodeoguy

    So will I be able to get a hybrid rocket pack as an add-on for my SUV, so I can save fuel.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sophie


    October 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lol

    " 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."

    Yeah but every Budweiser swilling redneck wants to know just one thing. "Kin it drive in a circle?...Buurrp!.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. G-Force

    It looks like something from the old cartoon Battle of The Planets.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Murray Jurasio, PhD

    Disaster looming....
    "self-taught engineer Daniel Jubb, 28,"

    October 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
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