Bloodhound SSC Hybrid Rocket Motor Gets Tested, Set to Beat Land Speed Record

Nammo rocket engine testing 5 photos
Photo: Nammo
Bloodhound SSC engine test fireBloodhound SSCBloodhound SSCBloodhound SSC engine test fire
In case you haven’t heard about the Thrust SSC, that’s the fastest wheeled vehicle to have traveled on Earth so far. It broke the world landspeed record in 1997, clocking 1,228 km/h (763 mph), also becoming the first car to break the sound barrier. Nothing beat that so far, but the Bloodhound SSC is scheduled to do that in 2016.
The $30 million (€21 million) rocket-powered car is slowly taking shape and recently, the team went through initial tests with their hybrid rocket motor that will provide the massive oomph. The rocket fired well at the Raufoss test facility in Norway and survived undamaged.

Hybrid rocket? The hell is that?

According to Nammo, the company that makes the one for the Bloodhoud, hybrid rockets are a safe, controllable, low-cost and green alternative for rocket propulsion. And no, it doesn’t rely on electricity as the second power source because that doesn’t make any sense in rocket motors.

Instead, the hybrid rocket technology relies on a propellant made by combining hydrogen peroxide as the oxidizer and synthetic rubber as the fuel being actually burnt.

This technology has been supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) since 2010, under its Future Launchers Preparatory Program (FLPP) and will probably be used some day to send spacecrafts into or further than our planet's orbit.

As you’ll see in the video bellow, the firing successfully lasted for the predefined 10 seconds test and it made a maximum thrust of 30 kN (3 tons). After the firing test ended and everything cooled down from 2,500 degrees Celsius (4,500 F), the whole engine got disassembled and discovered to have coped excellently.

The record that should also break the Internet

The Bloodhound SSC will attempt to break the speed record in 2016 on a dry lake bed in South Africa, hoping to clock a massive 1,609 km/h (1,000 mph), 381 km/h (237 mph) more than the Thrust SSC achieved. And to have an ideea of how much that is, that’s as fast as a Bugatti Veyron can go.

And another interesting thing to go with, the attempt will be live broadcasted to billions of people across the planet on the Internet. In fact, this is such an important thing that will generate enough traffic that new IT infrastructure has to be upgraded to withstand the demand.

Sixteen cameras will be placed in different places on the Bloodhound SSC to keep us “up to speed” and according to IT specialists, achieving that is nearly as hard as building the car itself.

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