The Bloodhound Land Speed Record Car Is Back and It Wants to Break 1,000-MPH Barrier
The team behind the supersonic car ran out of money in 2018, but new owners have put it back on track for a 500-mph test in October.
The Bloodhound supersonic land speed record car is back in business, and is now planning to schedule a crucial test in October 2019, CNN reports. The goal is still to hit speeds of over 1,000 miles per hour and set a new all-time land speed record in the process. But before they go that fast, they have to make sure it's safe to do so.
That brings us to the October test, where the car will hit 500 mph at its new home on a salt flat in South Africa's Kalahari Desert. The 12-mile Hakskeen Pan track there was specially designed for this speed run, and October's test will be the first time the Bloodhound runs there, per this week's announcement from the team.
This is a particularly crucial test as the car's handling transitions from being determined from how its wheels track on the salt flats to being determined by the car's aerodynamics, the team explained. This is a large part of why the car looks a bit like a wingless Concorde airplane—it's powered by a massive Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine that quickly overpowers any effect of the wheels rolling on the surface.
The current land speed record to beat is just 763.035 mph, so aiming for 1,000 mph is the delightful kind of overkill we appreciate around here. The record run itself is scheduled for late 2020.
Previously, the car successfully completed 200 mph test runs on the Cornwall Airport Newquay runway in October 2017, so this new test will ensure that the new equipment to run on the salt flat works properly.
The Bloodhound's salt flat spec includes uprated springs and dampers, solid aluminum wheels and more air pressure and load sensors. More intense safety gear is needed for this higher-speed run as well, including a new parachute braking system, plus a fire detection and suppression system in case anything goes wrong. The team intends this test to be a "full dress rehearsal" for their 2020 record attempt using the same procedures and systems they'll use next year.
The multi-million-dollar Bloodhound project was almost off for good when it ran out of money last year. The British company behind it was put into administration, which is a process roughly analogous to filing bankruptcy in the United States. Fortunately, a new set of owners bought the company out of administration in December and picked up the noble goal of setting a four-digit land speed record with a re-launch in March.
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