First runs for the jet- and rocket-powered car to take place in October 2017

After a fallow few months, there's a flurry of activity at Bloodhound SSC headquarters as the team pushes to break the Land Speed Record next October.

The Bloodhound car was shown to the public in a trail-build state in London in September 2015. It was a sell-out event and helped the team secure the funding needed to progress through to the record attempts themselves. The money now in place, the car can be fully built-up before it's put through its paces in a 220 miles per hour shakedown run at Newquay airport in June 2017.

Assuming nothing breaks, Bloodhound will be flown down to Hakskeen Pan in South Africa for the record attempt. A whole village is being built for the attempt at the site in the heart of the Kalahari desert, arriving in 16 containers.

The team, led by Richard Noble who himself set the LSR at 633.468 mph in Thrust 2, hopes to be ready for the first run by October 2017, when the target will be 800 mph. Wing Commander Andy Green will be at the controls, 20 years after he became the first - and so far only - man to break the sound barrier on land, taking Thrust SSC to 763.035 mph.

It's a massive operation, planned and drilled with military precision. The Bloodhound car will be trial-loaded onto the Boeing 747 that will carry it down to South Africa at the Farnborough Air Show next week. The turn-around team will practice the 40-minute process of getting the car refuelled and ready for its return run until they can do it blindfolded. Practically.

And that 16 container-loads of equipment includes a state-of-the-art workshop and a TV studio. Images and telemetry will be streamed live from Bloodhound during the record runs, allowing anyone and everyone to see and interpret how the car is performing for themselves.

Indeed, education is at the heart of the project. Thousands of children have taken part in the Model Rocket Car competition - the finals are held later this week - and the design and engineering of Bloodhound has been completely open-source.

The ultimate aim is to reach 1000 mph, though a timescale for that hasn't yet been set.

Bloodhound SSC record attempt

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BLOODHOUND Supersonic First Record Attempt: October 2017

  • BLOODHOUND Project announces target date for 800mph record attempt - 20 years after Thrust SSC set the existing record • Funding secured and Race Preparation underway

On October 15th 1997 Andy Green went supersonic in Thrust SSC and set a new World Land Speed Record of 763.035 mph (1277.98 km/h). Twenty years on, that record remains unchallenged.

In October 2017, the team behind the BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car aims to change that and today formally announced the start of preparations for its first World Land Speed Record campaign.

The recent signing of major deals means The BLOODHOUND Project now has sufficient funding pledged to complete the car and start the countdown to high speed testing at the Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, South Africa, in Autumn next year. The identity of the new partner(s) will be revealed in due course.

With BLOODHOUND engineers returning to the Project, having taken short term contracts elsewhere, a major programme of work to become ‘race ready’ now begins in earnest.

The Car displayed to widespread acclaim in September 2015 was a ‘trial-build’, without fluids, done in part to check the fit of over 3500 bespoke components. Conventional motor manufacturers typically build hundreds of pre-production prototypes to finalise details. As there is only one BLOODHOUND SSC, the Project used this opportunity to see if brackets were in the right place, key components accessible for servicing and one-off parts manufactured to the correct tolerances. 

The team will now disassemble the 13.5m long streamliner, documenting the process in fine detail, to create the BLOODHOUND User Manual. Given that, at some point in the future, engineers may be working on the world’s most complex racing car, at 2am, in the Kalahari desert, an accurate illustrated guide will be essential piece of kit.

Where necessary, modifications will be made and new parts created before BLOODHOUND SSC is reassembled and transported to Newquay Aerohub for tie-down tests with its EJ200 jet and Nammo rocket system in place.

The jet is a tried and tested component used by Rolls-Royce to develop the production engines for the Eurofighter Typhoon. The rocket is a new design however and further work will be required before engineers sign it off for use in the car.

BLOODHOUND SSC will travel under its own power for the first time at Newquay in June 2017, in a slow speed (c.220 mph / 354 km/h) shakedown test. This will also be an opportunity for the team to practice live-streaming data and imagery from the car - a key aspect of BLOODHOUND’s mission to share the adventure with a global audience.

By this time the team’s Rapid Response and Turnaround Crews will have done extensive training ready to support high speed running in South Africa. This will include rehearsing ‘the pit stop from hell’: an intense 40 minute period between timed runs during which time the car will be checked, refueled and made ready for the return leg. This ‘race within a race’ is crucial to setting a record: in 1997 a delay of just a few seconds cost the team the top prize during an early record attempt.

With the Shakedown Test successfully completed, BLOODHOUND SSC will be loaded onto a CargoLogicAir Boeing 747 freighter to be airlifted to Upington, South Africa. It will then be transported by road to the team’s desert base at Hakskeen Pan. Under the guidance of Operations Director Martyn Davidson, 16 container-loads of equipment will have been shipped in advance and a self-contained village complete with workshop and TV studios set up.

The first practice loading of BLOODHOUND SSC into the 747 will take place during the Farnborough International Airshow on Monday 11th July.

Project Director Richard Noble said, “This is probably the biggest moment in the Project’s history. Before we could only see financially a few months ahead but now we can put our foot down and really go for it!

We’re in this position thanks to the incredible support of our partners and sponsors, and the dedication and sacrifice of many people, including a skeleton crew who have held the fort and quite literally kept the lights on.

Most of all it has been the amazing public response that has sustained us. Thousands of children up and down the country are racing Model Rocket Cars and there is tremendous public enthusiasm for the Project wherever we go.

We have come through this difficult stage wiser, leaner and fitter. BLOODHOUND is now in Race Preparation which means the pace and the pressure will ramp up but so too will the sense of satisfaction as we head towards our Car breaking the sound barrier for the first time, with the world watching!”