Twenty-one years to the day since Wing Commander Andy Green cracked the land-speed record with ThrustSSC, the UK outfit attempting to go one better with Bloodhound has entered administration.
The Register spoke to the team behind the Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car (SSC) back in May and found the plucky outfit on the receiving end of some bad luck, in the form of two major suppliers going into administration themselves, leaving the car missing components.
At the time, the Bloodhound team reckoned it had found an investor with deep enough pockets to see the car through to a test run in South Africa in May 2019, but was coy on the details. Today’s news indicates that funds have run short before the car got a sniff of its Nammo rockets.
Bloodhound SSC got its first test run on the runway at Newquay airport this time last year, cranking the speed up to 200mph (322kmph) with a Eurofighter EJ200 engine bolted to the top of the thing. The plan had been to fit a single monopropellant rocket to get to 800mph (1287kmph) before attaching a cluster of three hybrid rockets to push Andy Green past 1,000mph (1609kmph).
Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car aims to wake up Newquay: Rocket work restart in AugustREAD MORE
Last month, Nammo demonstrated its new hybrid rocket by flinging some small payloads on a sub-orbital trajectory. The 9m long, 800kg Nucleus rocket reached an altitude of 107.4km (352,360ft), crossing the Karman line, before falling back to Earth. The company reckons it can scale up the rocket to loft small satellites into low Earth orbit.
Back on the ground, however, and things are not looking good for Bloodhound. Entry into administration is a sign that the organisation has concerns about paying its bills, and there is a very real danger the entire project could be wound up without ever turning a wheel on the deserts of the Northern Cape of South Africa.
The project, which has operated on a partnership and sponsorship model to date, and is running with borrowed jet engines from the UK’s Ministry of Defence, reckons that £25m of guaranteed funding is all the stands between it and a 1,000mph rocket-powered car. The 18km long, 1.5km wide track has already been created and, according to Mark Chapman, the Chief Engineer for the project, the team is moving “out of the R&D phase and into the operational phase of the project” and needs a “different approach to funding”
That “different approach” presumably involves cold, hard cash rather than empty promises from over-optimistic wannabe investors.
Should the £25m be secured, Chapman reckons that the team could be “racing for the record” within 10 months. Andrew Sheridan, joint administrator, commented that the team were “already in discussion with a number of potential investors”.
However, if you know someone with a spare £25m lying around then the team urges you to “contact us without delay.” ®