The Bloodhound Supersonic Jet Car's First Test Was a Success

The Bloodhound SSC is hoped to break 1,000 miles per hour, but for today's test, it reached 'only' 200.

Bloodhound SSC / Stefan Marjoram

The Bloodhound SSC has made slow but steady progress toward becoming fully operational and hopefully becoming the first car to exceed 1,000 miles per hour. On Thursday the project reached another important milestone, its first test runs on the runway at Cornwall Airport Newquay.

For the past month, engineers have worked hard to make sure all of the car's systems were up for its first runs. That includes not only its steering, brakes, suspension, and data systems, but also its EJ200 jet engine sourced from a Eurofighter Typhoon—not exactly standard equipment for a Toyota Camry. Neither is the engine's 135,000 horsepower. No, we didn't add three extra zeros. One hundred thirty-five thousand horsepower. If aimed vertically, the Bloodhound SSC would launch straight up to 25,000 feet, where it would then break the sound barrier.

But vertical flight isn't the car's purpose. Its purpose is to not merely break but annihilate the current land speed world record of 763 mph, set by Royal Air Force Wing Commander Andy Green in the Thrust SSC in 1997. Green himself will pilot drive the Bloodhound SSC for these test runs, as well as the world record attempt next year.

Thursday's tests reached "only" about 200 miles per hour, a mere fraction of the car's expected capabilities. This was exactly according to plan. It's still faster than the car has ever gone and like any initial aircraft test flights, the team is testing all systems, collecting data, and addressing any issues it encounters at relatively low speeds before even trying for the record. Green's zero-to-200 mph blast took a mere 8 seconds.

The Bloodhound SSC team will continue testing through the weekend. When they are satisfied with their progress, they will take the car to an 11-mile track in a dry lake bed in South Africa. There they hope to take the Bloodhound SSC up to 800 mph before reaching their ultimate goal of 1,000 mph.