A British team is developing a car that will be capable of reaching 1,000mph (1,610km/h). Powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, the vehicle will first mount an assault on the world land speed record (763mph; 1,228km/h). Bloodhound should start running on Hakskeen Pan in Northern Cape, South Africa, in 2019.
Bloodhound roared into life right on cue. Several months ago, we committed to getting the car to Newquay Airport at the end of September, to start our “slow speed” (200 mph) UK runway tests.
Exactly as planned, at 17:20 local on 28 September, the car’s EJ200 jet engine fired up for the first time.
Starting the jet engine on schedule is not the half of it, though.
Here’s the huge surprise. We got FULL REHEAT!
You can see a clip of the car’s massive power at the top of this page.
Reaching full power was completely unexpected, even by the Rolls-Royce team who came down to support our engine tests.
The static tie-down engine tests were designed to “characterise” the jet intake.
The intake is sized to provide the jet engine with just the right amount of air – at 850 mph.
When the car is stationary, or travelling very slowly (anything less than 100mph is “very slow”), there is no “ram effect” from the airflow, and the intake is too small to feed the jet engine with as much air as it would like.
As a result, we were pretty certain that the jet would be power-limited, probably quite severely, at slow speeds.
“Characterising” the intake was all about finding out just how much the engine would be limited.
When I pushed the throttle pedal down to its first detent, trying to select “max dry” power (full engine rpm), we were all expecting the engine to struggle and stop short.
I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when the cockpit instruments showed full dry power.
Hardly daring to hope, I pushed the throttle through the detent to select minimum reheat… and sure enough, it lit with no problem at all.
Maximum reheat? Yes, that worked too.
After shutting the car down, I climbed out to discuss the results with the rest of the team.
We’ve spent years discussing the effects of the expected power limits. How would it affect our runway testing? What speed can we reach in the UK? How will it affect acceleration during record runs in South Africa?
We were so concerned about the possible limitations that we even designed the air intake with the option to fit “auxiliary intakes” if necessary.
If you look closely at the sides of the car, just behind the intake mouth, you’ll see two large square hatches, where we can fit additional intake doors if required.
These are now redundant, which is great news.
One thing I can’t describe to you is what full reheat sounded like outside the car, because I don’t know.
In the cockpit, I can see the engine instruments showing the power setting, and I can feel the car straining against its 10-tonne-rated steel tie-down cables, but I can’t feel or hear the reheat at all.