It's rather pleasing to note that the cockpit of Boodhound SSC—the Land Speed Record attempt vehicle aiming to hit 1,000 mph—is exactly as high-tech and spaceship-like as you'd expect, given its mission. All too often the innards of boundary-defining machines are disappointingly drab, swathed in black paintwork with hastily-labeled switches, buttons and lights from 1960s tape reel computers and a slightly cobbled-together feeling. Not so Bloodhound SSC, whose lightweight carbon composite cockpit wouldn't look out of place in the next Star Wars movie.
It's the work of 10,000 hours of custom crafting, according to Gizmag—a medley of five types of carbon fiber weave and two different resins. Three different thicknesses of aluminum honeycomb are sandwiched between carbon fiber layers, reaching a thickness of 13 sandwiched layers in places. It may be designed for strength, but it's light too—tipping the scales at just 200 lbs.
That's somewhat offset by the weight of the items it's bolted to, though—Bloodhound features not just a jet engine (as have the last several Land Speed Record holders), but also a Formula One engine (used purely to pump fuel—really) and rocket booster. The Bloodhound team recently released an anatomy of its intended record-breaking run, which shows exactly how that rocket will assist the jet, and indeed how the whole 1,000 mph projectile is expected to stop again at the other end.
The lightweight, high-tech cockpit also has other jobs to do. Its external design helps generate aerodynamic shockwaves to prevent supersonic air entering the jet engine air intake, slowing the air down to 600 mph even at its 1,000 mph top speed. At the bottom of the cockpit, ballistic armor is used to prevent rocks and pebbles penetrating the passenger cell—while the two-layer acrylic windshield is designed to withstand 2.2-lb impacts at up to 900 mph.
Attention to detail (and safety) continues with the cockpit latches, which can withstand quarter-ton loads—preventing the cockpit being sucked into the intake at speed. Quite important, that. And in front of driver (/pilot) Andy Green, Bloodhound's speedometer reads in both mph and mach numbers. These aren't just for confirmation of record speeds, but also allow Green to fire the rocket boosters and the vehicle's parachutes and brakes at the right times.
And that blue glow? Not just for show—the Bloodhound team will likely be preparing the car for its run in the early, pre-dawn hours—and they'll need all the light they can get. You can find out more about Bloodhound's cockpit in the team's two videos, shown above and below.