The team behind the Bloodhound Land Speed Record (LSR) car has announced that the vehicle will shortly be heading to South Africa for a series of high-speed shakedowns on the Hakskeenpan desert, Northern Cape.
Expected to take place throughout October and November, the tests will see the vehicle carry out 13 progressively faster runs, eventually reaching speeds of 500+mph (800+km/h).
Commenting on the forthcoming trials Bloodhound CEO Ian Warhurst, who rescued the project from the administrators in 2018, said: “Something which has been talked about and planned for so long is now really happening…the project is now in new territory.”
The car has been undergoing a number of checks prior to departure, including a “dry crank” test of its EJ200 jet engine. This involves running through the start-up sequence and turning it over with no fuel or ignition.
To perform this test the team is using a small jet engine known as an Air Start Cart to blow high pressure air into the onboard Aircraft Mounted Accessories Drive (AMAD) gearbox, which will spin the jet’s turbine up to required speed and, once spinning, generate 3-phase AC power for the car, which then sends power to the jet engine’s fuel pumps.
Much of the heavy support equipment, including the car’s trailer, has already set off to make the long journey by sea, but the car itself will travel via air freight to ensure it isn’t subjected to any uncontrolled shock loads that could damage it in transit.
The jet engine will travel mounted inside the upper chassis, whilst the two-metre-high tail fin, has been removed and will travel upright in a wooden crate, along with some sections of the composite bodywork.
For testing in South Africa, the wheels will be changed from pneumatic to solid aluminium discs to cope with the high speeds and desert environment.
During the trials the vehicle will be powered solely by the EJ200 jet engine – which is normally found on the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet. When Bloodhound LSR attempts to break the land speed record in 12–18 months’ time it will be aided by a monopropellant rocket system.
The trials are particularly crucial, as the 300-500 mph window is one of the most vulnerable stages for the car. It’s at this point that the stability of the car transitions from being governed by the interaction of the wheels with the desert surface to being controlled by the vehicle’s aerodynamics.
The grip from the wheels will fade faster than the aerodynamic forces build up, so this is likely to be the point where the car is at its least stable.
The high-speed test programme will also be a full-dress rehearsal for the record-breaking campaign, with the team using the time to develop their operational procedures, perfect their practices for desert working, and test radio communications.
Data on the interaction between the solid aluminium wheels, which are being used for the first time, coupled with ‘base drag’ measurements, will provide real world insight into the power required to set records. Base drag relates to the aerodynamic force produced by low pressure at the rear of the car, sucking it back. As the car approaches transonic speeds, this force far exceeds the friction of the air passing over Bloodhound’s bodywork.