Science & Environment

Bloodhound diary: Supercar gets pointier nose

RAF fighter pilot Andy Green intends to get behind the wheel of a car that is capable of reaching 1,000mph (1,610km/h).

Powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, the Bloodhound car will mount an assault on the land speed record.

Wing Commander Green is writing a diary for the BBC News Website about his experiences working on the Bloodhound SSC (SuperSonic Car) project and the team's efforts to inspire national interest in science and engineering.

Image caption A new pointy nose increases Bloodhound SSC's top speed

This will be my last diary entry for a few months, as my day job as a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force is taking me away for a bit. I will be based in Italy for four months, supporting air operations over Libya, but we'll arrange some guest diary entries from the Bloodhound team to keep you up-to-date while I'm away.

There is good news from the engineering team. For the past several months, we have been working to develop a "positive yaw static margin" for the car. In simple terms this means making the fin big enough to keep the car's pointy-end forwards when it is at high speed.

After some great work by the team, the fin is about three times bigger than it was originally, with a structural design to support the additional load. The profile of the nose has also changed to reduce side loads on the nose.

The net result is a car that is now aerodynamically stable from below 300mph all the way up to 1000mph, which gets my vote! These changes have also reduced the aerodynamic drag on the car, which makes it easier to get to 1,000mph - even better news.

Still staying with the subject of the fin, over 8,000 people have put their names on it - a fantastic vote of support.

Rolling off

With the car's chassis now in manufacture, the first components are starting to roll off the production line. It was great to see the very first chassis part - a rear lower chassis corner, machined from aluminium - delivered last month. Only another couple of thousand parts to make and assemble and we will have a 1,000mph car.

Our recent brake disc tests showed that carbon fibre discs are close to bursting at 1,000mph, so we are looking for alternatives that can cope with very high rotation speeds.

The current option is steel - it is not a great material for a brake disc, but then it does not have to be, as the brakes do not do a huge amount of work on the desert. We are now planning some brake tests to find out how well steel discs will cope - we will let you know.

Image caption A team effort by year nine students in Walsall broke a rocket-powered car record

The preparation for our UK rocket firing this summer is coming on well. This will be the first full-power rocket firing that we have done, with the liquid high-test peroxide (HTP) oxidiser being pumped in by the Cosworth F1 engine for the first time.

Our previous "part-throttle" pressure-fed firings were impressive enough, so this should be quite something.

I'm a little disappointed that I'm going to be deployed with the RAF when this happens, so all of you will get to see it on the news before I do. I won't even get that chance to see it fire when we start testing the car, as I will be in the cockpit.

After a very wet rainy season in South Africa, the desert has finally dried out, so the Northern Cape team will soon be able to re-start the track clearance work.

This is going to be another of our world records before the car runs - the Northern Cape is clearing 24 million square metres of surface (track and safety areas) for us, which is the equivalent of clearing a wide road from London to Moscow by hand.

Future racers

Manchester Communication Academy (MCA) has become the home to the UK's very first Bloodhound education centre.

Launched three weeks ago, the Bloodhound education centre is the first of several across the UK and, along with the rest of the Bloodhound project, aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

A group of pupils from Joseph Leckie School in Walsall has spent the past year designing and building rocket-powered cars. At the end of May, they called in the man from Guinness World Records - they were ready for their record attempt.

Image caption Malcolm Campbell missed out on a land speed record in South Africa in 1929

After several failed attempts due to technical problems, they finally cracked it - 88mph across the school playground. A group of year nine students now have a fantastic experience of engineering and technology, and a new (scale rocket car) world record - well done them.

In 1929, the British racing driver Malcolm Campbell just missed out on setting a land speed record in South Africa.

Over 80 years later, we are going back to the Northern Cape with a car capable of 1000mph. I wonder what Campbell would have made of that?

The great record-breakers of the 1920s created a huge amount of excitement with their amazing cars, which could exceed the astonishing speed of 200mph. Now, Bloodhound is creating the same effect with its global education programme - and we have just set our first world record.

I am off on operations now, so see you again in four month's time. I'm already looking forward to catching up with all the progress for the world's first 1000mph car. It is a real engineering adventure and I can't wait to get back to it.

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