The Bloodhound SSC project, which aims to make a 1000mph land speed record car, will reach another milestone on Wednesday when its rocket system is tested in its entirety for the first time.
Richard Noble’s team will test-fire the rocket at Newquay Cornwall Airport as part of the propulsion system’s development programme. Combined with a jet engine aboard the Bloodhound SSC record car, it is hoped the rocket will help send the car and its driver, Andy Green, to more than 1000mph in South Africa late next year.
According to Bloodhound’s rocket engineer Dan Jubb, the test is the biggest rocket firing in the UK for more than 20 years, and the most accessible to the public since the early stages of NASA’s Apollo programme.
The test will be streamed online at bloodhoundssc.com/rocket.
Bloodhound’s rocket system is called a hybrid because, unusually, it uses a solid fuel (a synthetic rubber) and a liquid oxidiser (High Test Peroxide). Most rockets are either entirely solid or liquidly fuelled, but each brings its own problems with shutting them down.
A hybrid rocket, however, should just turn off cleanly if the HTP supply is stopped, as it may need to be during the record runs.
During the attempt, Bloodhound SSC will use a EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon engine, making 20,000lbf of thrust, to reach around 230mph, at which point Green will begin the rocket firing sequence.
Wednesday’s rocket firing is the first of four such tests, each building closer to a full power test, at which point the rocket will make 25,000lbf of thrust for 20 seconds.
Just as significantly, Bloodhound has recently secured sufficient funding to finish building the record car. The total, about £8.5m over the past four years, is enough to keep a Formula 1 team in business for about a fortnight.
The Bloodhound team is content that, now the car can be finished, additional funds to take it to South Africa and complete the runs will surely follow. They aim to attempt the record late next year, or very early in 2014.