17 years ago, a team of British enthusiasts came to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to set a new land speed record. The group was led by famed Scottish entrepreneur Richard Noble and had the jet-propelled, Thrust SSC car at its disposal. The attempt was not only successful, but it also became the first to officially break the sound barrier at 763.035 mph.
The benchmark remained untouchable to this day, but that could change in 2016, when Noble’s team will try to take the supersonic record into 1,000-mph territory with a brand-new vehicle. That car goes by the name of Bloodhound SSC and comes to prove that jet power, rocket power and a more conventional V-8 engine can work together under the same roof.
Much like the Thrust SSC, the Bloodhound SSC is being built using advanced, aerospace construction techniques, acres of carbon fiber and titanium, and a bevy of state-of-the-art technology.
Why are we reviewing a supersonic car you may ask? Well, the Bloodhound SSC might very well preview some of the technologies we will find in the road-going vehicles of the future. But most importantly, this land rocket is tuned to reach mind-boggling speeds by means of 130,000 horsepower!
Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Bloodhound SSC.
Believe it or not, the Bloodhound SSC is technically a car . Sure, it is powered by a jet engine and a rocket and uses its V-8 gasoline engine only as an auxiliary power unit, but it does have four wheels and requires a driver to function. The similarities stop here, though, as the SSC is far from looking like a conventional automobile. The supersonic car is no less than 44 feet long and it measures only 6.2 feet in width.
Underneath the aerodynamic body, the Bloodhound SSC hides a hybrid chassis and rib cage built using aerospace construction techniques and advanced materials such as carbon-fiber and titanium.
The front wheels are hidden underneath its pencil-shaped nose, while the rear wheels are mounted externally within specifically designed fairings. Its most impressive feature, however, is the large airplane-like fin mounted atop the rear section. Added to enhance the car’s lateral stability — or keep it pointing forward — the fin underwent several modifications until Bloodhound found the perfect balance between the SSC’s center of gravity and center of pressure. The fin works in conjunction with a couple of winglets mounted on each side of the pointy nose. These aerodynamic elements enhance the SSC’s downforce and provide a degree of control over the car’s front lift at high speeds.
Underneath the aerodynamic body, the Bloodhound SSC hides a hybrid chassis and rib cage built using aerospace construction techniques and advanced materials such as carbon-fiber and titanium. The front section of the car is a carbon-fiber monocoque similar in concept to a Formula 1 tub. Moving toward the rear, the structure incorporates ribs made from machined aluminum billet and titanium-built stringers. The outer skin of the rear section is also crafted from titanium, which provides the SSC with a lot of stiffness while reducing overall weight. Below the rib cage lie a number of aluminum frames, numerous steel parts and the rear subframe.
All those underpinnings and body components are wrapped in a blue-and-orange livery featuring the British flag on the huge fin. A "Castrol" logo adorns the jet intake mounted behind the cockpit, while several sponsors, including Rolls-Royce , are present on both sides of the car.
|Length||13.470 Meters (44 Ft.)|
|Max Height||3 Meters (9 Ft. 2 In.|
|Wheels diameter||0.915 Meters (36 In.)|
|Turning radius||120 Meters (394 Ft.)|
|Car Mass (fully fueled)||7786 KG (17,165 Lbs.)|
Two additional screens are mounted on each side of the main monitor.
The SSC’s cockpit is obviously inspired from that of a jet fighter. A main screen placed right above the steering wheel displays no less than 25 essential parameters, including speed (shown in both mph and Mach numbers), rocket power, wheel brake speed, and parachute deploy speed. Other details available through the multifunction screen includes jet engine power, turbine blade temperature, lateral G, and distance to the end of the track.
Two additional screens are mounted on each side of the main monitor. The left one displays battery voltage, hydraulic and airbrake accumulator pressure, front and rear brake temperature, as well as mismatches between rotation speed of any of the wheels and GPS ground speed. Moving over to the right, the driver can monitor the auxiliary engine’s rpm and all sorts of temperatures and pressure indicators. The same screen will enable the driver to learn of any fluid leaks or fires that might occur while the vehicle is running.
Two pedals are used to operate the throttle and the brakes, two levers act as a parachute release mechanism, while a third lever enables the driver to cut jet engine fuel off.
Beneath the trio of displays, two Rolex gauges keep track of all speed-related data, while two switch panels act as interfaces between the driver and car’s complex propulsion system. Two pedals are used to operate the throttle and the brakes, two levers act as a parachute release mechanism, while a third lever enables the driver to cut jet engine fuel off.
Lastly, the steering wheel, which is 3D-printed from powdered titanium, includes seven function buttons that operate anything from the airbrakes and the parachute to the radio. Granted, this is one of the most complicated cockpits we’ve seen on any machine designed to run on the ground, but given that the SSC is designed to reach more than 1,000 mph, the presence of so many functions and switches isn’t surprising at all.
About half the horses are provided by an Eurojet EJ200 gas turbine.
This is where the Bloodhoud SSC reveals it wild side, which translates into more than 135,000 horsepower. Yes folks, 135,000! That’s more than six times the power of all the Formula One cars on a starting grid put together or, if you’re looking for a more down to Earth comparison, 300 times the power of a 2014 Corvette Stingray.
All that insane amount of oomph comes from three different power units. About half the horses are provided by an Eurojet EJ200 gas turbine. Normally found in the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter plane, the jet engine will take the car to 300 mph before the rocket engine kicks in to propel the SSC to higher speeds.
Speaking of rockets, the Bloodhound project is using a Nammo hybrid rocket tuned to provide a thrust of 123.75 kN (27,500 pound-feet) on its own, and about 212 kN (47,7000 pound-feet) when combined with the thrust coming from the jet engine. While the design of the rocket has yet to be finalized as of 07/09/2014, the builder says it is likely to have a cluster of four to five motors rather than a single, large combustion chamber. This pretty much explains the hybrid denomination and why this unit will be the largest of its kind ever built in the United Kingdom.
The current record sits at 760.343 mph for the flying kilometer and at 763.035 mph for the flying mile.
The third engine fitted in the Bloodhound SSC is a conventional, gasoline-powered V-8. The unit is actually a 2.4-liter Cosworth Formula One engine rated at 750 horsepower, but its purpose is not to motivate the wheels, but to serve as an auxiliary power unit. Specifically, the V-8 powerplant will drive the oxidizer pump that will supply about 800 liters (211 gallons) of High Test Peroxide (HTP) to the rocket in just 20 seconds.
So why does the Bloodhound SSC need no less than three engines and more than 135,000 horsepower? Well, the British supersonic car aims to set a new world land speed record at 1,000 mph sometime in 2016 and break the first supersonic benchmark established by the Thrust SSC back in 1997. The current record sits at 760.343 mph for the flying kilometer and at 763.035 mph for the flying mile. Will the Bloodhound manage to reach the 1,000-mph mark? It remains to be seen, but with 135,000+ ponies under that pencil-shaped body, success is pretty much a given unless something goes terribly wrong.
|EJ200 Jet engine||90 kN||20,233 lbf|
|Hybrid Rocket engine||122 kN||27,427 lbf|
|Auxiliary Power Unit||588 kW||800 BHP|
When Will We See It In Action?
The Bloodhound SSC won’t hit the test track until early 2016, when Richard Noble and his team will be conducting runway trials of up to 200 mph on a 12-mile track in South Africa. There’s no word as to when the SSC will attempt to set a new land speed record, but expect that to happen by the end of 2016.
Developed by Richard Noble, Glynne Bowsher, Ron Ayers and Jeremy Bliss, the Thurst SSC is the British, jet-propelled car that holds the world land speed record since 1997 and the first car to break the sound barrier. The benchmark was set on October 15th, 1997, when the Thrust SSC reached a speed of 763.035 mph in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Driven by Andy Green, the Thrust SSC was powered by two Rolls-Royce turbofan engines sourced from the F-4 Phantom II jet fighter and had a total output of 110,000 horsepower.
54 feet long and 12 feet wide, the Thrust SSC was longer and wider than the Bloodhound SSC and tipped the scales at 10.5 tonnes (23,149 pounds). It burned about 4.8 gallons of fuel per second, which would translate into a fuel economy of 0.04 mpg. The supersonic car is now displayed at the Coventry Transport Museum in Coventry, England.
The Bloodhound SSC is definitely the next big thing in the supersonic car world. Sure, it may have very little relevance to the automotive industry, but it’s cars like these that started the whole land speed record craze more than 100 years ago. In 1898, the benchmark stood at only 39.24 mph. Two years from now, we could be looking at a new supersonic record of more than 1,000 mph. Not bad for 116 years of progress, right?
- Promises to reach 1,000 mph
- 130,000 supersonic horses
- Showcases aerospace construction techniques
- We can’t drive it
- We wouldn’t be able to drive it even if we were allowed to
- Burns enormous amounts of fuel