The only ground-based vehicle ever to state the aim of going past 1000mph has made its first appearance in full desert speed spec, following its new livery earlier in the year.
Having been taken to its lengthy and purpose-built facility in the Northern Cape region of South Africa, the recently-resurrected Bloodhound LSR is about to launch its preparation for the first-ever bid to reach four-figure speeds on land.
This phase of its development will see it testing various components at speeds over 500mph, most specifically the wheels. If they stay on, it’s a thumbs-up. An unspecified number of passes will be made on the Hakskeenpan desert track to evaluate the car’s ability to stop; crucial to its attempt to hit record speeds and still bring its driver home alive.
On some runs pilot Andy Green will punish the wheel brakes as hard as possible. On others, one or both of the parachutes will be deployed. The drag and deceleration each time will be measured and added to the data lake. Some 192 sensors all over the car will monitor aerodynamic pressure and make sure it matches what was predicted by the team’s computational fluid dynamics predictions.
Once the boffins have bashed enough initial numbers around their software, it’s time for faster runs. That means raising the target speed by 50mph each time and then checking that the car can still stop – not to mention that nothing breaks.
In 12-18 months’ time, the plan is to be ready for a tilt at the current record of 763.035mph. If that is broken, the bubbly will come out for a night or two, but then it’s back to the pursuit of 1000mph. As before, an EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon engine provides the initial power before a patently bonkers rocket takes over and accelerates the car up to its maximum speed.
The team says 16,500 tonnes of rock were removed from 22 million square metres of dry lake-bed to guarantee the smoothest course possible. We can only assume hitting a small pebble at 1000mph would put Bloodhound into orbit.