The 1,000mph (1,609 kmph) Bloodhound supersonic car is undergoing its first test runs at Newquay Airport in Cornwall later today.
Whizzing up and down the 2,744-metre runway, the Bloodhound car is planned to reach speeds of up to 200mph (322kmph).
The car, built in Bristol over the last eight years by a group of enthusiastic engineers, will make two runs to test the Bloodhound team's operating procedures – and for Wing Commander Andy Green, its driver, to show off how the beast handles.
Green was the man who literally drove through the sound barrier into the record books 20 years ago while at the wheel of Bloodhound's predecessor, Thrust SSC. This time the team aims to propel Green through the 1,609 kmph) (1,000mph) barrier in the South African desert.
Bloodhound's wheels are based on those of the old English Electric Lightning fighter jet of the 1970s – indeed, the tyres are actual Lightning tyres, refurbished by Dunlop. Their advantage is, in the team's words, that they have "around one-third of the grip of regular car tyres". The wheels are perhaps better described as fixed-direction casters rather than car wheels, given that Bloodhound's propulsion systems don't actually drive the wheels like on your Ford Ka.
Following static trials of the 13.5m-long car's EJ200 engine (as fitted to the Eurofighter Typhoon), during which it achieved full reheat, putting out its full 20,000lbs of thrust while chained to the ground, today's runway drive will allow the team to test the engine in a realistic operating setting – not to mention the brakes as well. The jet engine gets the car up to around 350mph before a rocket supplied by European arms 'n' rockets firm Nammo is ignited. This propels the car up to its maximum design speed.
Thanks to the rocket's insatiable demand for fuel, Bloodhound is fitted with a Jaguar V8 auxiliary engine purely to serve as a rocket fuel pump, delivering high-test peroxide at a rate of 40 litres per second.
As previously reported, Chinese taxi biz Geely, the ultimate owners of Volvo and the makers of London's black cabs, is sponsoring Bloodhound.
A live video feed of the trial runs can be seen on YouTube. ®