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Boost for land speed record bid after successful rocket test

LONDON (Reuters) - The British team behind a project to build a 1,000 mph car have cleared a key hurdle with a successful test of the rocket they hope will push the vehicle well beyond the sound barrier.

The rocket will be twinned with a fighter jet engine from a Eurofighter Typhoon on the Bloodhound supersonic car in a bid to smash the existing world land speed record of 763 mph set 15 years ago by the same team in Thrust SSC.

The test-firing, which produced a jet of flame from the rocket fixed to a test rig in a bomb-proof military hangar at an airport in the southwest English town of Newquay, lasted a matter of seconds.

"That's exactly what I was hoping to see," said Andy Green, the Royal Air Force fighter pilot who will sit in the driving seat for the record bid. "That was a hugely successful, very, very important experiment for us."

The test brought together three components; the rocket itself, a tank containing the peroxide-based rocket fuel and a Cosworth Formula One engine used purely to pump the fuel into the combustion chamber.

Test data showed the rocket produced 14,200 pounds of thrust with the Cosworth engine running at over 16,000 revolutions per minute. Further tests through the end of this year and into 2013 will ramp up the power.

For the record bid, the rocket is designed to generate 27,500 pounds of thrust, equivalent to 80,000 horsepower or the combined output of 95 Formula One cars.

The team say they have enough funding from sponsors to complete the car, which so far only exists on paper.

Bloodhound will attack 1,000 mph on a dry lake bed called Hakskeen Pan in South Africa's Northern Cape region in 2014.

(Reporting by Chris Wickham, editing by Paul Casciato)

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