The current world land speed record stands at 763.035 mph, as set in October 1997 by British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green driving the jet-powered Thrust SSC. Green is looking to break his own record and has a new team and a new car behind him, however, called Bloodhound SSC. Green wants to top his own record, and he’s not interested in adding a few kilometers per hour. He want to top 1000 mph in his new supersonic land vehicle.
To reach this tremendous speed, Green’s car will be equipped with both a jet engine and a rocket-propulsion system. During its first test run in October 2012 the engine performed as expected, igniting for 10 seconds and creating 6,350 kilograms (14,000 pounds) of thrust, equivalent to about 35,000 horsepower.
In addition to breaking the land-speed record, a 1,600 kph (1,000-mph) run would be faster than any jet fighter at low altitude in history, Green says. The fastest pass—at more than 15 meters off the ground—was about 1,590 kph (988.3 mph), in a modified Lockheed F-104 in 1977, he adds, “and that was without dragging its wheels.”
Speaking of which, the Bloodhound’s wheels are made of steel and are designed to be slim in order to minimize drag. Because there’s little drag, the car (if you can call it a car) will be able to accelerate to unheard of velocities for a land vehicle, but at the same time it will make it very difficult for it to stop. While most of the retardation will be done by air brakes and parachutes, a set of car-like disc brakes still have to haul it down from 160 mph to a standstill on the slippery earth of South Africa’s Kaksken Pan.
The video below details the challenges the Bloodhound SSC engineering team had to face and are still facing in order to devise a working system capable of breaking the car. During testing, a set of carbon rotors from a jet fighter shattered under the stress during a half-speed, 5,000-rpm test. Engineers switched to steel rotors from AP Racing, which managed to absorb 4.6 kilowatts of energy on a test stand without failing although the Bloodhound team hasn’t spun them up to the full 10,000 rpm just yet. This is the next step.