Fantastic news – we’ve finally found ‘The Solution’! Three years ago, we set out to prove that we could build a Car that would do 1000 mph. After 18 months of research in secret, we knew that it could be done, so we launched Project BLOODHOUND on a slightly incredulous world. Since then, we’ve fixed the final configuration of the Car (the jet-over-rocket layout) and found the ideal track in South Africa. We’ve also convinced a lot of those incredulous people (and dozens of new sponsor companies, including some giants like Intel and Lockheed Martin) that we really are going to do this.
But there was still one huge problem...... we were certain that we could keep the Car on the ground right through the speed range – but we couldn’t get all the details right in a single body shape. This month, finally, we cracked it – we now have a shape that is slippery enough to reach 1000 mph, ‘lift neutral’ (i.e. it will stay on the ground!) and has room inside for the chassis, suspension, etc.
The latest aerodynamic pressure plot – the underside of the Car at Mach 1.3
The aerodynamic pressure under the Car tells the story. Previous computer predictions have been a mix of angry reds (very high pressure) and dark blues (very low pressure). This one is really quite boring and uniform – which is exactly what we‘ve been looking for. This simple-looking result is the amount of a huge effort by Mark Chapman, Ben Evans, Bjorn Rodde and Iain Niven, on a programme called a ‘Design of Experiments’ – basically a very clever research technique, which has found the answer we’ve wanted for 3 years. We’re going to build this shape!
Interest in BLOODHOUND is international and is growing fast – this month I had an example of just how fast, when I was invited to a most amazing dinner. My friend Bob Gilliland (test pilot for the SR-71 Blackbird) invited me to meet some of his friends: Steve Richie (US fighter pilot ‘ace’ from Vietnam) and 3 Apollo astronauts – Jim Lovell (Apollo 13), Gene Cernan (Apollo 17) and Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11). Eric Brown, ex-Royal Navy and the most prolific test pilot in history, also joined us. Now the surprising bit – despite the unique achievements of this group, the single biggest topic of conversation over dinner was.... BLOODHOUND SSC. Towards the end of the evening, Gene Cernan (the last man to walk on the Moon) gave the best summary of Project BLOODHOUND that I’ve ever heard. We’d been talking about the BLOODHOUND Education Programme and our aim to promote science and engineering in schools. Gene understood perfectly: ‘Get kids excited’, he said, ‘And you can teach them anything’. That’s just what we aim to do.