Is it jet? A racecar? A rocket? No, it’s the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car (SSC). Designed to reach 1,000 mph, the Bloodhound SSC will attempt a new land speed record in the South African desert in 2015. When it does, composite materials will not only go along for the ride, but will be a key factor to the high-tech car’s performance and safety. The front third of the car from the nose to the air intake above the cockpit is made from composites.
The quest to create the world’s fastest car, led by British land speed veterans Richard Noble and Andy Green, has been underway since 2008. Noble was project director of the record breaking Thrust2 (1983) and ThrustSCC, which established the current land speed record of 763 mph in 1997 – the first supersonic record. Green, who is a wing commander in the Royal Air Force, drove ThrustSSC and will also be behind the wheel of the Bloodhound SSC.
The Bloodhound SSC, which takes its name from a British surface-to-air missile, is a car because it has four wheels and is controlled by a driver. It’s supersonic because it is designed to go faster than the speed of sound. Specifically, it is designed to reach 1,050 mph in 42 seconds. The car borrows from a range of industries, making it “a funny mix between a fast fighter jet, a Formula One™ car and a spaceship,” says Conor La Grue, engineering lead for the Bloodhound SSC.
The supersonic car’s 135,000 horsepower comes from a EUROJET EJ200 jet engine, normally found in the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter plane, and a specially designed hybrid rocket that is the largest of its kind in Europe. A Cosworth Group CA2010 Formula One engine provides auxiliary power for hydraulics and the rocket oxidizer pump, which must supply 800 liters of High Test Peroxide (HTP) in 20 seconds.
The Bloodhound SSC’s body is also a hybrid of auto and aerospace technologies. The rear section of the car is comprised of a metal frame and panels like an aircraft. The front portion, where the driver will sit, is a carbon fiber monocoque, like those found in race cars.