SA speed-record rocket to test

2012-09-27 12:32

LONDON, UK - The Bloodhound Project 3 team has outlined its first test of the hybrid rocket that will, it's hoped, power Andy Green and his Thrust Supersonic Car through the sound barrier and on to '1000 miles per hour' - 1609km/h - in South Africa in 2013.

The rocket burn will take place at The Aerohub at Newquay Cornwall Airport, southern England, in October 2012. The record bid will be at Hakskeenpan in the Northern Cape a year later.

The Bloodhound rocket engine is four metres long, 46cm in diameter and weighs 450kg - the largest of its kind to have been designed in Europe and the biggest to be fired in the UK in 20 years.

In its final form it will generate 12 500kg of thrust - equivalent to the combined output of 95 Formula 1 cars.


The October test will be the most significant milestone yet as the team develops the world’s first '1000mph' (1609km/h), Mach 1.4 car. Its engineers will be evaluating the performance of the complete 'hybrid' rocket system for the first time.

The term “hybrid” stems from the fact that the rocket combines solid fuel (a synthetic rubber) with a liquid oxidiser (high-test peroxide or HTP) reacting with a catalyst (a fine silver mesh) to produce its power.

Although technically demanding, the team believes its hybrid approach is the safest and most controllable option to allow driver Andy Green to shut off the flow of oxidiser and extinguish the rocket, if required.

During the test, the Cosworth F1 engine reach will reach 17 500rpm to fire HTP into the rocket at a pressure of 272kg/square inch. According to the team it is: “(The) equivalent to holding a large family car on the palm of your hand and with enough flow to fill a bath in five seconds.”

The rocket will burn for 10 seconds during the test, half the duration of the record run but sufficient to generate 22 371kW. Predicted sound levels at the rocket nozzle will approach 185 decibels, many times that of a Boeing 747 at take-off.

The rocket system is still at a very early stage in its development and the test is not without risk.

The team will also use the event to practice the safety protocols and rocket-handling procedures they'll use in 2013, when Bloodhound begins its supersonic campaign at Hakskeen Pan, South Africa.

  • gerrit.vanpletzen - 2012-09-28 06:13

    And Andy Green's memorial service will be held soon afterwards. Of course there will be no funeral, because there will be no remains found after the crash and explosion.

  • Jeremy - 2012-09-28 09:50

    Back in '97 I watched the tv footage of Andy Green pushing for the sound barrier in Thrust SSC. It was the most incredible sight - this immense black twin-jet monster blasting across the desert at speeds never before reached on land. It's all completely pointless of course - as is Ranulph Fiennes upcoming attempt to cross the Antarctic in winter at the age of 68 - but you can only have huge admiration for these mavericks who "push the outside of the envelope" and put on a helluva show for us mere mortals at the same time! Best of luck to both of them - and I'm definitely going to try to get to Hakskeen Pan when the record attempt takes place....

      fishycraig - 2012-09-28 13:42

      See you there Jeremy! Yes, these guys are crazy but what an amazing craziness. What these two men who you mentioned have in common is summed up by Mallory when asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, 'because it's there'.

  • Blixum - 2012-09-28 10:58

    Oranje, blanje blou spinnekopvlag op die stert? Priceless.

  • godfried.kruger.9 - 2012-09-29 21:11

    Good Luck, I am going to Hakskeen Pan to see this. it will be amazing!

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