National Geographic : 2009 Oct
ART: DON FOLEY. DIAGRAMS: HIRAM HENRIQUEZ, NG STAFF; MINDY NICHAMIN SOURCE: BLOODHOUND PROJECT TECHNOLOGY MAXIMUM SPEED With a top speed of 1,050 mph, the Bloodhound will be more than four times as fast as a Ferrari. Ferrari Enzo Bloodhound 1 Driver fires jet engine, getting car to 350 mph in just 25 seconds. 2 Hybrid rocket engine ignites and adds thrust, pushing car to 1,000 mph. 3 After top speed of 1,050 mph is reached, rocket thrust stops. 4 Jet engine stops. 5 Driver deploys air brakes and, if needed, parachutes. 6 After car drops below 200 mph, hydraulic disc brakes bring it to full stop. SI X SUPERSONIC STEPS 2 DISTANCE IN MILES :26 seconds :45 :54 1:28 1:40 200 mph 200 mph 400 600 600 800 800 1,000 1,050 mph 46 81 0 The land speed record is determined by the average speed of two mile-long passes, from opposite directions, made in one hour. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Hydraulic brakes Jet engine Air brakes Fuel tanks Parachutes Hybrid rocket Fastest Car Quick, what's faster than a speeding bullet and isn't named Superman? The answer is the Bloodhound SuperSonic Car, or soon will be. Now being built in England, the jet-and-rocket- powered ride is designed to go, go, go 1,050 miles an hour. If it succeeds, it'll blast past the current land speed record of 763 miles an hour, set in 1997 by Andy Green in the jet-propelled Thrust SSC. Green, a Royal Air Force pilot who'll also helm the Bloodhound, says the $15-million vehicle---funded chiefly by corporations and universities---isn't just for joyrides. It's also a lure for students. "If we want a low-carbon world," he says, "we need to grow more engi- neers." Britain's government agrees. It's allotting a million dollars for schools to study the sound-barrier buster's advanced systems. Meantime, Team Bloodhound is seeking a suitable desert site to take its pencil-shaped, truck-size car for a 2011 spin. Green says he'll be ready: "I just need to keep the car shiny side up and pointy side forward. Otherwise, what we're doing won't matter to anyone." ---Jeremy Berlin 80 240 400 560 720 880 1040 80 240 400 560 720 880 1040 At full speed, the Bloodhound would beat a 971-mph .357 bullet in a race.