Rubber tires can’t withstand the 50,000
Gs created at 1,000 MPH. I first thought
of the discs almost as skis, but they’re not.
They’ll turn at 10,200 RPM when called
to duty, which is mostly for stability and
helping to maintain direction.
The carbon-ceramic disc brakes are
prone to explode at around 500 MPH.
They’re OK for low-speed, airport-run-way testing, but old-school steel discs
get tasked with bringing the Bloodhound
down to a complete standstill when it
goes all out in the desert.
Accurate stopping is important. To
break an LSR, you need to back up your
run with another within an hour. Parachutes and airbrakes will get you in the
vicinity (via a combined 20 tons of drag),
but disc brakes allow the Bloodhound to
stop on a dime in its “pit” area. Playing
into this second run are the aforementioned gantry, trolley/cradle, and jig.
They’re all designed for speed and efficiency when in the hands of the crew.
The cradle is especially critical, as
each maximum effort run requires a new
rocket. Rocket builder Nammo is very
excited about future benefits to space
travel from this quick-change system in
which the used piece is slid out and the
new rocket is slid in.
Great lengths have been taken to
ensure driver Andy Green comes out
of this experience in one piece. The
streamlined body’s titanium skin is both
riveted and glued to the frame, a frame
that is machined from billet aluminum.
When adrenaline and G-forces saturate
your body as you blast into and through
triple-digit speeds, hands can grip with
superhuman force. The steering wheel is
superlight and superstrong 3-D-printed
There’s a 30-minute supply of fresh air
to Andy’s mask in the event he’s trapped
in the cockpit. Both the twin parachutes
and airbrakes are deployed via giant,
mechanical levers: one for each chute on
the left, and a third for the airbrakes on
Andy’s driving compartment has been
designed for him specifically, sized to fit
like a glove. The monocoque he lies in-
side of is built of layers upon layers of dif-
ferent types of carbon fiber, aluminum,
and even ballistic armor. A stone kicked
up at the speed of sound might as well
be a blast from a .45-caliber handgun.
The windscreen is a specially developed
acrylic masterpiece about an inch thick-thicker than that on a fighter jet.
Fuel + Oxygen + Ignition =
The car is a hybrid; the Bloodhound has
both the sophisticated turbofan heart of
a Eurofighter Typhoon and a rocket specifically developed and built for this mission, a joint venture from Bloodhound
and Nammo. When the two power
plants are engaged together, they’re good
for about 135,000 HP.
During low-speed testing (under 600
MPH), it’ll need only the jet engine. The
turbofan was built specifically for the
Typhoon fighter, and the entire package
has been a difficult swap for the car. This
includes an array of sensors that are supposed to be measuring flight conditions,
not ground conditions. A pitot-static sensor (the probe that looks like a lightning
rod on the front of supersonic jets) is up
on the fin, and it captures air speed and
air pressure data crucial to the turbofan’s
proper function. The Bloodhound engineers have learned to trick the EJ200’s
touchy operating system into thinking it’s
A-OK to fire off while at an elevation of
The fin is a piece that looks simple in
finished form but underneath is a mess
of cameras, gauges, and sensors, along
with a puzzle of aluminum struts and
spars snapped together precisely with
a laser-aligned jig. An RAF squadron of
engineers has taken responsibility for
this section, as it is very much like the
tail sections of fighter jets they work
with daily. The fin’s most important task
is keeping the Bloodhound straight. The
team likens it to feathers on an arrow—
a long, narrow “shaft” in flight with aim
kept true by those feather fins.
Early in the project a 2.4-Liter 750-
HP Cosworth F1 engine turned the fuel
pump. The pump, which is based on a
piece that did the same job in a 1960s
cruise missile, feeds 210 gallons of high-test peroxide to the rocket in 20 seconds
(an auxiliary power unit connected to
the EJ200 powers the electronics and hydraulics).
Preparing for a
New LSR in 2018
Some preparation has already taken
place at HakskeenPan in South Africa.
The Project hired 300 locals to clear
debris from the 12-mile track they carefully laid out. Work has already been performed at the site, including a test where
Andy drove an F-Type R all out towards
an oncoming L39 Albatross fighter to
prove out their communication system at
the equivalent of quadruple-digit speeds.
Runway testing for the car is expected
to commence this year. Due to funding
issues, the Bloodhound SSC project has
faced some delays, but the goal is still
the same. As of right now they expect to
make a run towards 800 MPH next October, and if all goes well, they’ll shoot for
1,000 MPH in 2018.
While there are obvious differences,
the Beast of Turin and the Bloodhound
SSC both share a passion—both were designed and engineered to be the fastest
wheeled vehicle anywhere on earth—
century, and yet somehow just an afternoon, apart.
Josh Welton is the owner of Brown Dog
Welding, Detroit, MI 48208, 586-258-
All photos courtesy of Josh Welton,
Brown Dog Welding.
The Bloodhound’s aerodynamic design
makes it look fast when standing still.