Bloodhound SSC fired up for ballistic test

Driving at 1,000mph is risky in itself but imagine the scenario of a loose stone beneath the vehicle flipping up and penetrating the vehicle.

The team behind the Bloodhound Supersonic Car have done just that and have engaged Morgan Advanced Materials to develop a lightweight composite ballistic panel containing millions of woven glass fibres to absorb the energy of any projectiles that might hit them.

In order to test their panels, which have been fitted to both sides of Bloodhound’s carbon fibre cockpit, the team fired a projectile at them with 29KJ of energy.

The Bloodhound SSC project aims to break the current world land speed record of 763mph (1,227.92km/h) in 2015 and then to set a new world land speed record of 1,000mph (1,609.34km/h) in South Africa in 2016.

At 1,000mph, Bloodhound SSC’s solid aluminium wheels will rotate at 10,200 rpm and generate 50,000 radial g at the rim.

The wheels have been forged using a 3,600 tonne hot press and a 20,000 cold press to ensure the metals internal grain structure radiates out like the spokes of a wheel, but they could still fail if they hit a stone hidden beneath the surface of the vehicle’s desert race track.

Similarly, if a piece of the wheel were to fly off, or a stone lying just under the surface of the desert were to flick up, they could penetrate the incredibly strong carbon composite cockpit.