In about a year’s time, pilot Andy Green will strap himself into the driver’s seat of the Bloodhound SSC, parked on the flat and straight Hakskeen Pan in South Africa. If all goes as planned, a Cosworth F1 engine will spin up to 17,500 rpm, powering a pump that injects High Test Peroxide (HTP) into a rocket engine at 600 pounds per square inch.
There, the HTP will combine with solid fuel, a silver catalyst and an ignition source to provide sufficient thrust to power the Bloodhound SSC to a speed of 1,050 miles per hour, roughly Mach 1.4 at the Hakseen Pan’s elevation. It will take the car some 55 seconds to reach 1,000 miles per hour, and it will be covering a mile distance in just 3.6 seconds.
At top speed, there will be some 20 tons of drag to overcome, and the car will be producing some 185 decibels of sound, making it louder than a Boeing 747 at takeoff. The rocket engine will be gulping some 64,000 liters of air per second, while temperatures inside the engine will climb as high as 5,432 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before any of that can happen safely, the rocket engine must be tested over and over again to fine tune its design, performance and safety features. At the speeds to be encountered, there is absolutely no margin for error whatsoever.
As seen in the video above, today marked the first successful test of the Bloodhound SSC’s rocket engine, which ran for 10 seconds and generated some 14,000 pounds of thrust (roughly the equivalent of some 35,000 horsepower).
1,000-MPH Bloodhound SSC show car unveiled
The good news is that peak thrust occurred at a lower throttle position than expected, meaning that the engine performed better than anticipated. The bad news is that engineers will need to go over hundreds of pages of data before problems are isolated and corrective action can be taken.
The team behind the Bloodhound SSC is quick to point out that today’s test occurred very early in the development of the rocket engine, and that a great deal more work is needed before the project can advance. Still, the successful firing of the rocket engine marked a significant milestone in the Bloodhound SSC’s development.
If you’d like to follow along with the car’s development, be sure to bookmark the Bloodhound Project’s web page and check back for regular updates.