The recent news about the ‘coke bottle bombers’ highlights a slightly scary fact about rockets. The bombers’ plan for blowing up several airliners (and the reason that we can’t take drinks through airport security any more) was to use concentrated hydrogen peroxide (known as high test peroxide, or HTP) in soft drinks bottles.
A third of a litre of HTP is, apparently, enough to blow a hole in the side of an airliner. So when the rocket fires in BLOODHOUND, and we pump A HUNDRED TIMES this much into the rocket EVERY SECOND, we’re going to have a fairly huge explosion. Daniel Jubb and his team have promised that, when they test-fire BLOODHOUND’s rocket at the end of the month, this will be a ‘controlled’ explosion. I can’t wait to see how they get on. Hope it won’t actually blow up..... I’ll let you know.
We’re still looking for deserts to run BLOODHOUND. [Picture at the top of the page: Spot the BLOODHOUND Run Site!] After last month’s visit to the US, none of the deserts there appear to be fit for BLOODHOUND. We’re still looking at one remote site in Australia, and I’ve passed details on to our Australian competitor, Rosco McGlashan, in case he can use it (or at least go and see what it’s like, since he’s closer than I am!). Meanwhile, I’m still keen on Verneuk Pan in South Africa, but it has a surface full of tiny bits of stone. At high speed, the front wheels will kick these tiny stones up – and then they’ll hit the back of the Car at a closing speed of 1000 mph. You can see how this might be a problem. Let’s hope that we can find a way to fix it.
We’re still refining the surface shape of BLOODHOUND SSC, to see if we can improve the aerodynamic balance of the Car. One simple fix is to switch over the jet and rocket, putting the jet on top. This is the last major decision we have to make before starting to build the Car – we’re nearly there.
You would expect that the biggest challenge for a 1000 mph Car would be accelerating to top speed. Then again, with 12 tonnes of controlled explosion from the Falcon Rocket, ably assisted by 9 tonnes of thrust from a Eurofighter engine, perhaps you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that going fast is only half of the problem – slowing down is the rest of it. We need to stop a 5-tonne Car from 1000 mph in about 4½ miles, so the team has opted for parachutes and airbrakes to make sure that young Andy doesn’t end up going on a long cross-country drive at the end of the record run!
We don’t have a parachute supplier yet (if you know a company that would like to help with the drag chutes, please get in touch!) but we’re already working on the airbrakes (picture right, just forward of the rear wheels). Question is, how big do they need to be, and what will they do to the airflow at high speed? Swansea University’s super-computers are working on this one as well.
I went to the World Aerobatic Championships at Silverstone this month, where several surprising things happened. We sold out of BLOODHOUND sweatshirts (a result of typical English summer weather - much colder than forecast) and sold a whole load of 1K Club Memberships – a lot of people were jumping at the chance to get involved in the most exciting motorsport challenge that they’d ever heard of. Given that we were selling these memberships at a race weekend at Silverstone, that said a lot about BLOODHOUND.
I was also lucky enough to take a quick spin in the new Sbach ‘Xtreme’, the world’s fastest production aircraft. It is so responsive that it felt ‘twitchy’ – unfortunately, I made the mistake of saying this to Alan Cassidy. Alan is the ‘god’ of British aerobatics (a role he’s inherited from Brian Lecomber, who’s now writing monthly updates for BLOODHOUND) and he quite correctly put me in my place: ‘There are no twitchy aircraft, only twitchy pilots’. The same is probably true of Land Speed Record Cars. Thanks Alan, I’ll keep working at it.
Silverstone was also the first time that I’ve been approached by potential sponsors asked me how they can invest in this Project. Normally it’s us pestering them for money – I’ve never had sponsors pester me before. Looks like the recession might be ending early for BLOODHOUND!
While we were at Silverstone, the rest of the team was at an education festival at Stoneleigh. We’ve now got almost 2000 schools across the UK signed up to BLOODHOUND and it’s great to see their enthusiasm first-hand.
The BLOODHOUND stand was swamped by kids wanting to find out what we were doing and to try rocket-thrust racing for themselves, using the BLOODHOUND ‘balloon cars’. Yet another clue that we’re getting the message out to our audience – the engineers of tomorrow. Who said that race cars only appealed to boys?
Andy Green - September 2009