up with the Bloodhound concept while
listening to a speech by the U.K.’s then
Minister of Science Lord Drayson. With
no aircraft like the Concorde, the Vulcan,
or Lightning to drool over, Britain has
experienced a steep decline in students
enrolling to become engineers. The kids
have had nothing to excite them, no jet
fighter or supersonic cruiser to post on
their ceiling to stare at while dreaming.
The country has an aging infrastructure
and a need and desire to move towards
“green” design, but the shortage of engineers is limiting its ability to build the
The Bloodhound SSC’s goal is not just
to surpass 1,000 MPH, but to inspire
the next generation of engineers. It’s
an open-source project, and the entire
country is involved. It’s privately funded,
but the government lends a hand when
and where it can. The U.K. is, rightly so,
very proud of the Bloodhound project.
The Federation Internationale de
l’Automobile (FIA) requires LSR cars to
have at least four wheels, and two of
them must turn. So the Bloodhound SSC
has four wheels, and two of them turn.
The bay that houses the Bloodhound is
equal parts aircraft hangar and hot rod
shop. To the left is a small but well-
equipped metal fabrication space. Next
to that is a long, narrow surface plate; a
fixture to build and test the rocket fuel
delivery setup (which looks ready to
rock); and a parts cage. Right of us sits a
gantry crane used to lift off the top half of
the car, a trolley with a cradle for quick-
changing the rockets, and a jig to build
the car’s tail fin.
As it sits, the car is being prepped for
testing up to about 200 MPH. This will
be done at a local airport in Newquay.
Thousands of sensors in every nook and
cranny of the chassis, body, and fin will
feed data back to the team so they can
double-check their predicted calculations before going balls to the wall starting (hopefully) next year.
Go Fast. Stop Fast. Repeat.
Tires with rubber wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes are a couple of the items
currently on the car that will not make
the trip for high-speed runs. The rubber-shod wheels will be replaced by one-piece aluminum discs, a specially forged
high-strength material:0 alloy 7037.
Contributing editor Josh Welton and two
contenders for setting land speed records
about 110 years apart.