February 7, 2011

“˜Bloodhound’ Construction Starts This Week

Construction work formally starts this week on what could be the world's fastest car.

The Bloodhound has been designed to reach speeds of 1,000mph.

The British car will attempt to set the mark as it breaks the land speed record on a dried out lake bed in South Africa's Northern Cape late next year.

The vehicle has been in design for the past three years.  It will be powered by a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine bolted above a hybrid rocket.

The power unit combination will deliver a thrust of 47,000-pounds, but will only weigh about 6.5 tons.

"It's a fantastic feeling to be handing over the drawings to the people who will now build the car," said chief engineer Mark Chapman.

"It's a 'progressive definition release' which means as soon as we finish a design, it goes out the door. The first metal parts should start coming back to our design house in Bristol by Easter," he told BBC News.

Aerospace specialists Hampson Industries will prepare the Bloodhound.  They were passed the design drawings just a few days ago so that they could start work this week on the vehicle.

Bloodhound's front section will be prepared by Advanced Composites Group, which is known for their work on America's Cup yachts and other hi-tech vehicles that use carbon and glass fiber materials.

ACG will construct the master models and tooling of the car's bodywork and structural components, like the monocoque and nose.

The car's 3-feet diameter wheels will be made from an aluminum alloy.  They will have to withstand rotation to excess of 10,000 rpm while at the same time being blasted by grit thrown up by Bloodhound as it sweeps across the lake bed floor.

The discs will be made from a grade chosen by Lockheed Martin following simulations that involved firing stone particles at metal plates using a high-powered gas gun.

"If necessary we'll design a fancy mud guard for down the front of the wheels just to protect them," Chapman told BBC. "That's one thing we're still looking at. We're also having one last look at the design of the rear fin before locking out the top of the car."

Bloodhound could surpass the World Land Speed Record set by the Thrust SuperSonic Car in 1997 if it achieves 1,000mph.

Three people who worked on Thrust are also engaged in the Bloodhound project.

The vehicle will begin "low speed" trials on a U.K. runway in the first half of next year before being shipped to Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape for high speed runs in late 2012 or 2013.

A private Bloodhound has received considerable support from the British Ministry of Defense in the form of the loan of two Typhoon engines.


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