This supersonic car aims to break the 1,228-km/h land speed record
Published Thursday, July 11, 2019 11:07AM EDT
It could become the fastest vehicle on land, but first it has to pass a crucial test in South Africa.
The creators of the "Bloodhound," a British supersonic car, hope it can shatter the current land speed record of 1,228 kilometres per hour. That attempt is set for next year, though.
First, its driver Andy Green, 56, will aim for an 800 km/h run at a specialized test track at Hakskeen Pan in South Africa this October.
The company behind the car, Bloodhound LSR, hopes to gain some crucial data from that test.
They've converted the car from a spec designed for runway testing to a one for high-speed testing in the desert. That's meant changes to springs and dampers, adding a parachute braking system, and fitting solid aluminum wheels designed for the desert surface instead of typical rubber wheels used on pavement.
How all those changes work together at high speeds will be crucial to whether the car can break the record.
Green, a Royal Air Force Pilot, was also behind the wheel of the Thrust SSC when that vehicle set the new land speed record on Oct. 15, 1997. Twenty three years later, he's going for it again.
It's been a rocky road for Bloodhound LSR, though.
It unveiled thesupersonic car in 2015 and has been working on breaking the record since.
Last year, it faced financial issues and the project was almost scrapped. But British businessman Ian Warhurst took over in late 2018 and relaunched the project in March.
The company then secured new funding to carry out the test, but that's it for now. It will have to source new sponsors to fund the record attempt, which is currently planned for late 2020.
The land speed record has been broken multiple times over the last 90 years.
Some notable achievements include the "Golden Arrow" driven by Henry Segrave, which reached a speed of 327 km/h in 1929, and the "Spirit of America" driven by Craig Breedlove to a speed of 966 km/h in 1965.
In 1970, the "Blue Flame" driven by Gary Gabelich became the first to break 1,000 km/h, reaching a speed of 1,014 km/h.
Green's current record of 1,228 km/h also became the first supersonic record, since it broke the sound barrier.
The Bloodhound, by the numbers
- 1,600 km/h -- theoretical top speed
- 10,200 rpm -- the rotation of the aluminum wheels at top speed
- 3,000 C -- the temperature inside the rocket engine
- 12.9 m -- the car's length
- 2.5 m -- the car's width
- 6,422 kg -- the weight, fully fuelled
- 54,000 thrust hp -- power of the jet engine used for testing
Watch a look back on the 20th anniversary of the current record