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. Portland tony

    It's very nice that the British can put a rocket on a soap box racer...and go very fast horizontally while the rest of the world is trying to go very fast and far vertically into space. Yet we still can't go 100 miles in an electric car. People call this science. Let's concentrate on science people can transform into jobs!

    October 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • nisroc00

      Oh but if it was made in the USA it would be different to you... of course you are just another jealous American that your country did not think or create it first. Suck it up... suck it alllllll up

      October 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meki60

      the out-fall technology is worth far more than the event, please proceed and I hope you do well. Signed – a non-jealous American.

      October 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mannydanny34

    With Regular at $4.19/gal I think this is a horrible idea.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stuart

      good thing your opinion doesn't matter.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • mannydanny34

      Too bad you don't understand sarcasm.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HuPhartNgau

    It's not the thrust, or the aero that will get someone killed; it's the little bumps in the road... This exercise serves little more than an ego massage to it's creators, and a financial dump to the potential sponsors. There is little audience for the entertainment, and the technology does not trickle down to the auto industry. So why...?

    October 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      A) Several aspects of the technology advancements in this and related projects certainly do get used by space, military aircraft, and car racing industries. B) Compared with the billions that get used producing and being spent on Hollywood "entertainment", I and many others find the millions (factor of many thousands less) that get spent on this to be entertainment that is well worth the miniscule fraction of the cost.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      I think developing a car that can go 1,000 MPH will bring several technological advancements – some may ultimately find their way into high speed trains for example. I also think it will be great entertainment – I'd definitely watch the program on Discovery Channel that will get made. Oh, and I'm a fan of anything that pushed the boundaries of what humans can do. Go Bloodhound SSC!

      October 4, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cpc65

    And I even like the color.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dan

    damm thats 4 times the speed of Bugatti Veyron

    October 4, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Shawn

    just plain stupid. at that speed, a pebble or a waft of air will create an explosive death for some fool...

    October 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • TD

      And imagine if some guy makes a left hand turn in front on him...

      October 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Judy

    Why do people climb Mount Everest?? For the same reason they want to break the land speed record. Do not try to write anything more into this than the reason that there is a record to break. Could the money be better spent...YES...But there is a record to break and someone wants to have that honor. It is simply human nature.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigdawg1

      Judy, excellent! I'm glad you "get it!"

      October 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. garwin1

    Here, hold my beer. WATCH THIS!!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mr. Bubbles

    I read the Carfax report on this thing. It was involved in a fender-bender last year on the New Jersey Turnpike at 566 MPH.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chuck steaks

    this is the most amazing thing next to the rover on mars. im glad to be alive to see alls this. expecialy the rebate, and sein da prez luz!

    October 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |

    Nina Paley's new "potential-possible-maybe-feature film" project is Seder-Masochism, and she's posted a clip called "This Land Is Mine," which she envisions as the final scene of the movie. "This Land Is Mine" is a history of the Holy Land and all the blood spilled over the years by various parties who laid claim to it. Her web page for the short features a full cast of characters, with historical notes, and, of course, the wonderful video itself.

    October 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jack James Smith

    Job's to build a rocket car . What a waste of money and gas . No wonder we and the British are broke .

    October 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chrissy

    I have to say after reading this article what came to my mind was *meet George Jetson!*

    October 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Peter

    It will be amazing to see a car can break the sound barrier – and then hear it do so!

    October 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Truth Hurts, Doesn't it?

    Whats next for Britain, a 10 mile long condom that nobody could use?

    October 4, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
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