Bloodhound returns to UK after 600mph run

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The Bloodhound Land Speed Record team is in a celebratory mood, having successfully completed the crucial high speed testing phase of the programme, during which it notched eye-watering speeds of 628 mph / 1,010 km/h.

This places the Bloodhound LSR car, unofficially, as the sixth fastest car of all time.

The tests took place on the Hakskeenpan: a dry lakebed in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa. The alkali playa is some 20 km long, and to conduct the tests a 500 m by 16 km strip was cleared of stones and had twenty straight lines painted along its length, creating the desert ‘racetrack’ on which the Bloodhound LSR car was put through its paces.

Driven by Andy Green, the Bloodhound LSR car reached a maximum speed of 628 mph / 1,010 km/h from a standing start in 50 seconds. Going fast was not, however, the primary aim. The 12 run profiles were designed to develop the team, hone operational processes, deliver crucial data, and prepare the car for the record attempt within the next 18 months.

The global media interest around the high speed testing has really raised our profile and potential sponsors are getting in touch every day'” said Bloodhound LSR owner Ian Warhurst. “Our partners will have opportunities to get involved in the next exciting phase of the project, as we develop the monopropellant rocket and prepare the car for supersonic speeds.

“With the data we’ve generated from the high speed testing we’re able to start budgeting for the next phase of the project, which will need to be funded through sponsorship. We know it will require up to £10 million and the incredible social engagement with our high speed testing programme has proved that sponsors will see a return on investment and be a part of history.”

Sensor information

Recording data was a high-tech process. The Bloodhound LSR car is covered with 192 air pressure tappings, plus a multitude of strain gauges, temperature sensors and accelerometers. These provided data on the pressures and loads that the Bloodhound LSR car was under at high speed. The data from these sensors was reviewed following every run to check if they married up with the predicted computer generated CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) models and suspension loadings. 

Swansea University’s Jack Townsend and Assistant Professor Ben Evans reviewed the data and found there was a correlation of over 90% between the predicted CFD model and the data generated – this was beyond expectations. Even the area where paint work was stripped from the underside of the car by transonic airflow was in the exact same spot as was predicted by the CFD.

This is highly encouraging as it means the predicted models are accurate and it gives great confidence in the aerodynamic shape of the car as speeds increase, as well as a genuine belief that a targeted new land speed record of 800 mph, or even faster, is possible.

Next steps

Even though the high speed testing was a resounding success, now the real work begins. The team is turning its attention to raising the vital budget necessary to move into the final phase of the programme: attempting a new world land speed record in 12 – 18 months’ time, back in South Africa. 

The Bloodhound LSR car is currently in a shipping container, heading back to the UK by sea. When it arrives in early January, it’ll be returned to the workshop in the heart of SGS Berkeley Green University Technical College, Gloucestershire, where it’ll be reassembled into desert spec configuration. 

In order to set a new world land speed record, the Bloodhound LSR team needs to fit a rocket on the car. Norwegian aerospace expert Nammo is developing a monopropellant rocket as part of the European Space Agency R&D programme, which will be the perfect fit for the Bloodhound LSR car, slotting easily into the vacant tunnel beneath the EJ200 jet engine. The new rocket will use concentrated hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) which, when passed through a catalyst, decomposes into H2O and oxygen, whilst generating the several tonnes of thrust needed to blast Bloodhound LSR into the record books.

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