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Bloodhound gang hits 1,010kph, retreats to lab to work on smashing the land speed record

Supersonic air detected

Bloodhound LSR hit 628mph (1,010kph) in high-speed testing over the weekend, as fast as its current rocket will propel it.

The car left the start line in "max dry" mode – with no visible flames. At 50mph (80kph), driver Andy Green "put his foot down", pushing the jet engine into reheat or afterburner mode.

Maximum speed was reached in 50 seconds, five miles from the start, and Green lifted off the throttle at 615mph (989kph), stabilised the car then deployed the parachute. It came to a stop seven miles (11km) from the starting line.

Subsequent GPS checks put the top speed at 1,010kph. Brakes were applied at 250mph (400kph). The speed achieved would allow you to travel from London to Edinburgh in 39 minutes.

The Eurofighter EJ200 jet engine produces 9kN of thrust, about 54,000 brake horse power.

Bloodhound LSR's owner, Ian Warhurst, said: "Our speed objective for these tests was to reach 1,000kph. Hitting 1,010kph is a real milestone and shows just what the team and the car can achieve. With the high-speed testing phase concluded, we will now move our focus to identifying new sponsors and the investment needed to bringing Bloodhound back out to Hakskeen Pan in the next 12 to 18 months' time."

Warhurst, who formerly ran Barnsley-based turbocharger biz Melett Ltd before he sold to US firm Wabtec in late 2017, saved the project from bankruptcy last year.

"Not only am I immensely proud of the team, I'm also delighted that we've been able to demonstrate that the car is eminently capable of setting a new world land speed record."

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Green said the cool and almost windless conditions had been perfect, as had the surface of the track created at Hakskeenpan, South Africa. The Northern Cape provincial government and over 300 members of the local Mier community shifted 16,500 tonnes of rock from 22 million square metres of lake bed to make the tests possible.

This phase of testing is now over and data collected by 192 sensors will be analysed by a team back at the University of Swansea to see how well it corresponds with predictions made by the computational fluid dynamics modelling. Analysis of the final run found airflow underneath the car went supersonic and removed the paint from an area three metres behind the front wheels.

The primary aim of this research is to accurately measure how much drag the car experiences in order to work out how big a rocket is required to break the land speed record. The current record is 763mph (1,228kph) but Bloodhound aims to break the 1,000mph (1,609kph) barrier.

Apart from slight drifting to the right caused by crosswinds, the car handled well.

The car has been run up in incremental stages over the last month. The next stage, getting the car to 1,000mph, will require a new monopropellant rocket, which is being developed by Norwegian specialist Nammo.

More on the team's blog here. ®

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