The Bloodhound LSR’s long road to 1000mph has just taken a major step. As part of early tests in South Africa’s Northern Cape, the LSR completed three ‘run profiles’ - up to 100mph, to 200mph, and then over 300.
During the Run Profile Three on the Hakskeenpan desert, the car’s Rolls-Royce EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine ran its afterburner (also known as ‘full reheat’) for 12 seconds. This saw Bloodhound driver and current World Land Speed Record holder Andy Green charge from 50 to 300mph in an astonishingly short 13 seconds, backing off at 334mph.
The next run profiles - due to be completed in the following four weeks - will see the LSR’s speed built up in 50mph increments, with an eventual target of over 500mph.
The EJ200 engine is capable of providing 20,000 pounds of thrust (equivalent to the “output of 360 family cars,” Bloodhound says), but it’s only part of the story. At a certain point, a hybrid rocket booster will take over proceedings, because strapping only a fighter jet engine to a car clearly isn’t bonkers enough.
It’s this part of the equation that will push the LSR on to record-breaking speeds, but the team don’t know how big the booster will need to be yet - these tests will be crucial in determining its size. Data from the car’s 192 senors will be analysed, with close attention paid to how much drag Bloodhound suffers at very high speeds.
The intention is to return in 12-18 month’s time for Phase One, which will involve a circa 800mph target to comfortably eclipse Thrust SSC’s 763.035mph record. All being well, Phase Two will kick off an effort to hit 1000mph.
What’s most impressive about all of this is less than a year ago, the project looked all but dead. Bloodhound went into administration in October 2018, and with no buyer emerging initially, the record attempt car itself was almost cut up for scrap. A couple of months later, the announcement came that entrepreneur and engineer Ian Warhurst had bought the whole Bloodhound endeavour, saving it from destruction.
Speaking about the first round of tests in South Africa, Warhurst said:
“I’ve been impressed with the tenacity of the team to work through a challenging first week of testing in the Kalahari Desert. With all those issues resolved it’s exciting to be moving into the high-speed phase of the testing and get a max reheat run under our belts. Witnessing Bloodhound blasting from 50 mph to 300 mph in 13 seconds and on to 334 mph was jaw-dropping. British engineering at its finest.”