Later this year the wheels will finally be fitted onto a chassis that is destined to become the world’s fastest car – the Bloodhound SSC (Supersonic Car).
The 12.8m, 6422kg long vehicle aims to beat the current land speed record of 1,228km/h, 763mph at the Hakskeen pan in South Africa next year. It is powered by a Eurofighter jet engine and according to engineers will travel faster than 1,000mph.
The first run will be a momentous occasion for the dedicated team of engineers, enthusiasts and sponsors behind the project. But will the car have any lasting legacy apart from getting into the Guinness Book of Records?
According to Bloodhound project director, Richard Noble, “a great number of advances are likely to be made on the way”, and “already during the research programme we are beginning to develop new technologies which are of great interest”. There is also the stated objective that the project is designed to encourage interest in engineering amongst young people.
The main advances will come mainly in the areas of aerodynamics, propulsion, control systems and materials. It’s not often considered, but one of the greatest technical challenges is the wheels, and how these interact with the ground at high speed. According to John Piper, engineering director of Bloodhound SSC, they will spin at 10,500RPM, with a force of 50,000 radial G. Producing a wheel that can withstand those massive forces is a large undertaking, and there has been little communication from Bloodhound on its solution so far.
Only time will tell whether any of the technology developed for Bloodhound ends up in consumer applications and affects how we travel. But all eyes will be on a remote location in South Africa next year when a man in a car / rocket sled attempts to go faster than 1,000mph.