Breaking the sound barrier has been done in the air, but can a car reach the 1,000 mph threshold? Bloodhound SSC engineers say yes.
Bloodhound's driver, Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green, will be behind the wheel for this record attempt. Engineers are using both jet engines and rocket power for the Bloodhound SSC. There will be air brakes and a parachute to slow the vehicle down after the record speed - but that still isn't going to be enough to stop the missile car. Engineers likened it to stopping a bus from 160 mph on a wet road. I'm sure that's comforting to Andy Green. At that speed, the wheels are expected to be turning at 10,000 rpm. And Bloodhound's last brakes design, um, sorta shattered.
But now the record aiming team says they think they have it. The brakes are made of steel, like the steel wheels, and have been successfully tested at 7,000 rpm.
The location, Hakskeen Pan, is in the Northern Cape region of South Africa. This rocky shale dessert is the same area where Malcolm Campbell's 1929 record attempt track was. That record attempt took laborers 3 months to prepare the 120 ft. The Bloodhound team needs to prepare a track that's 18 km long by 1500 m wide, about 40 times the size of Campbell's 1929 run.
The Bloodhound team's first choice was actually Verneuk Pan. They performed an extensive survey with the help of the Northern Cape Government, who sees huge PR potential in the world record attempt. Bloodhound's blog reports, "clearing Verneuk was going to be much more difficult than we expected. A full survey last month revealed that the shale bed was breaking up underneath the playa surface and would cause us a lot of problems."
In Hakskeen Pan, which had earlier seemed an unlikely spot because of the layer of dirt that covered it, the Bloodhound team found their ideal spot. "Over 19 km long, 5 km wide, very hard and very flat, great access (the new tarmac road), nearby accommodation, on-site power, good communications, ideal weather."
Bloodhound SSC has been on display tour across the world. Their record-breaking efforts have been in the works for years, and with the find of a suitable track site the preparations are winding down. This is all in accordance to the rules of The World Land Speed Record regulated by FIA. South Africa is poised to be the site of the world's first 1,000 mph car run!