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Bloodhound LSR hits a new top speed of 628mph

18 November 2019

Bloodhound reached a new top speed as she tore down the Kalahari Desert racing track in South Africa and completed the high-speed testing phase of the project.

Pic Credit Tom McCarthy

Propelled by an EJ200 jet engine normally found in a Eurofighter Typhoon fighter plane, reaching maximum velocity as she passed the 5-mile (8km) mark in just 50 seconds.

This 628mph sprint was Run Profile 8, a pre-defined and exacting set of parameters set out by the Bloodhound LSR engineering team and driven with precision by Andy Green. Andy rolled off the line using the EJ200 in ‘max dry’ (no flames visible out of the back) and up to 50mph, at which point he put his foot down past the detent and pushed the jet engine into reheat (aka afterburner). Bloodhound LSR then reached maximum velocity in 50 seconds. Andy lifted off the throttle at 615mph, stabilised the car and then deployed a drag parachute to slow the car safely to a halt at the 11km mark.

The successful high-speed tests that have taken place over the last four weeks have seen Bloodhound blasting down the Hakskeen Pan desert racetrack in Northern Cape, South Africa, reaching incrementally higher speeds, providing a spectacular showcase of British engineering to a global audience. The Bloodhound team’s primary objective is to engage and inspire people of all ages through the most extreme application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Supersonic airflow detected around the car

The runs formed part of a high-speed test programme to examine how much drag the car creates in a number of scenarios and at various speeds, using the wheel brakes and drag parachutes, and with the giant airbrakes locked into position.

Data from 192 pressure sensors on the car has been monitored and compared with the predicted CFD (computational fluid dynamics) models to check whether they correspond. Bloodhound’s engineers are working with Assistant Professor Ben Evans and Jack Townsend from Swansea University to examine the data. During the last run analysis showed airflow beneath the car went supersonic and stripped the paint from an area three meters back from the front wheels.

The crucial data generated from the runs will reveal the amount of drag experienced by the car on each run. This data is critical to determine the size of the rocket that will be fitted to the car for the attempt to set a new world land speed record in 12-18 months’ time.

The EJ200 jet engine generates 9kN of thrust, roughly equal to 54,000bhp, which on its own is not enough to set a new world land speed record of more than 763mph as set by Thrust SSC in 1997 ¬– faster than the speed of sound. Norwegian rocket expert Nammo is developing a monopropellant rocket that will produce the additional 60kN of thrust needed for Bloodhound to set a new land speed record on Hakskeen Pan.

Stage successfully set for next phase: a world land speed record 

Ian Warhurst, Bloodhound LSR’s owner said: “Our speed objective for these tests was to reach 1,000km/h. Hitting 1,010km/h is a real milestone and shows just what the team and the car can achieve. With the high-speed testing phase concluded, we will now move our focus to identifying new sponsors and the investment needed to bringing Bloodhound back out to Hakskeen Pan in the next 12 to 18 months’ time.

“Not only am I immensely proud of the team, I’m also delighted that we’ve been able to demonstrate that the car is eminently capable of setting a new world land speed record.”

The world’s best straight-line race track Bloodhound driver Andy Green added: “This morning we had the perfect conditions for a high-speed run; cool temperatures and virtually no wind. After a slick start procedure from the team, the car handled superbly once again.

“The stability and confidence the car gives me as a driver is testament to the years of world class engineering that has been invested in her by team members past and present. With all the data generated by reaching 628mph, we’re in a great position to focus on setting a new world land speed record in the next year or so.

“A vital component in the success of our high-speed testing has been the race track created here at Hakskeenpan. It’s proved to be exactly what we need, and I’m delighted with how the car has performed on it.”

The Bloodhound LSR team is incredibly grateful to the Northern Cape Provincial Government and members of the local Mier community, who undertook the painstaking process of removing 16,500 tonnes of rock from 22 million square metres of dry lakebed to ensure the Bloodhound car can run smoothly and safely. It’s the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event, and testament to the partnership forged between all three groups. This feat was recognised by the FIA in 2016 with the award of special certificates and medals for the 317 workers.

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