The Brits have always been a little bit crazy, especially about such challenges as land speed records, climbing Mt. Everest, and so forth. Now, after three years in development, they are starting construction of the Bloodhound SuperSonic Car, to reach 1,000 mph on a dry lake bed in South Africa in 2012-2013.
Power comes from a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine and a Falcon hybrid rocket booster, with a Cosworth 800-hp Formula 1 engine pumping oxidizer (peroxide) to the rocket motor, which cuts in after the car is under way. Details here, on the car’s website.
The vehicle can be considered totally awesome or totally insane, depending on your point of view. According to Wing Commander Andy Green, who will be driving it, the engines will generate 135,000 hp, with acceleration from 0-1,000 mph in 45 seconds. Now, what person in his right mind would want to be in that car?
Here’s one description of what he will endure:
[Green] will lie feet-first in the Bloodhound. As the car accelerates from 0-1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) in 42 seconds, he will experience a force of 2.5g (two and a half times his bodyweight) and the blood will rush to his head.
To slow down, airbrakes will deploy at 800 mph (1,300 km/h) and parachutes at 600 mph (970 km/h). Disc brakes will be used below 250 mph (400 km/h). As he decelerates, experiencing forces of up to 3g, the blood will drain to his feet and he could black out. He will practice for this in a stunt aircraft, flying upside-down over the British countryside.
“What a spectacular way to die,” says one commenter on the Daily Mail’s story.
The sponsors and managers of the venture promote it not as an exercise in macho craziness but as an “iconic” engineering project to create “a national surge in the popularity of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.” In other words, there’s an educational mission behind the madness.
The British have pretty much dominated the history of land speed record attempts. However, Lockheed Martin is assisting on design of the Bloodhound wheels, and a few more global companies are getting involved. The payoff, one hopes, will be in the 4,000 British schools taking part in the project.
Is the Bloodhound adventure a worthwhile mission or another British ego trip? Give us your opinion.