The Bloodhound supersonic car has finally been unveiled, 95 per cent complete before the first attempt to break the land-speed record next year.
After more than eight years of work, the 13.5m long rocket car has been put on display in London’s Canary Wharf, including its Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, the same used on the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
“The key area which we still need to develop is the rocket engine, which needs to undergo some testing,” said Mark Elvin, lead mechanical engineer behind the project. “The car you can see here already has most of the major components including the 550 horse power supercharged Jaguar V8 engine that powers the fuel pump of the rocket system. We have all the electronic systems, pressure sensors, strain gauges…”
The car features a 2m high tail fin that will provide stability at supersonic speeds. According to Elvin, it will be ‘the hardest working fin’ in the world.
“It’s about the same size as a fin on the Hawk fighter trainer but they would be doing the sorts of speed of six or seven hundred miles per hour at 30,000 feet where the air is very very thin,” said Elvin. “We are doing one thousand miles per hour at sea level were the air is very thick.”
Next Easter, the engineers plan to test the car at low speeds at the Newquay airport in Cornwall, running it at only 200mph to make sure all systems are working as designed before the first record-breaking attempt the following summer.
The car will then travel to South Africa for the first attempt to conquer the speed of sound. During the run in 2016, it will only aim to reach 800mph (1,287km/h). The project will reach its climax the year after when the car, driven by fighter pilot and the holder of the existing land-speed record Andy Green, will attempt to reach more than 1000mph, about 230mph more than the current record.
Between the 800mph and 1000mph attempts, the car will travel back to the UK to have its rear section re-fitted.
“For the 1000mph run we will use three rockets instead of one,” said Elvin.
Part of the Bloodhound exhibition in Canary Wharf is a simulator where visitors can test their skills in controlling the supersonic car, driving on a straight line.
The car is first powered by the jet engine to reach 300mph at which point the driver ignites the rocket. After the car reaches its peak speed, it will be able to cover the measured one-mile distance in about 3.6 seconds.
The project, started eight years ago by a small team at the University of the West of England with the aim to attract more young people to engineering, has brought together 280 global companies including Rolls-Royce, Jaguar and Rolex.
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