When someone announces they're planning to drive in a straight line in a hybrid vehicle, it usually wouldn't make headline news. But the Bloodhound Supersonic car (SCC) is no ordinary hybrid - it's a jet-engined speed machine with a 'hybrid' rocket attached, and it's a shoe-in for the world land speed record.
The Bloodhound SCC will be built and piloted by the same partnership that guided the current record holder - the SCC Thrust - to a shade over 763mph twelve years ago. This time around, project leader Richard Noble OBE and driver Andy Green OBE aim to kick sand in the face of their 1996 record by blasting through the 1,000mph barrier in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada.
The pair reckons it's going to cost around £10m to build and develop the Bloodhound, and they plan to 'gradually' build up to the record by first hitting 800mph in 2009, then 900mph in 2010, before breaking into four figures in 2011.
Just think about that kind of speed for a moment. At 1,000mph the Bloodhound will be covering the length of four football pitches every second, and could get from Lands End to John O Groats in just over 36 minutes - assuming it didn't have to deal with middle lane drivers and roundabouts on the A1. At full speed, pilot Andy Green will be dealing with a vision-impairing 3.6G of thrust.
Leader Richard Noble calls it "the ultimate engineering project," and assuming nobody is working on a time machine, he's probably right. He'll therefore be sharing the development with anybody who wishes to have a look by opening up the Bloodhound's base in Fitton to the public.
Government Science Minister Lord Drayson, who unveiled the plans and backed the team's funding request, hopes the 'public gallery development' concept will stimulate interest in science and cutting edge engineering among UK students. We hope so too.
Mark Nichol - 23 Oct 2008