Aug 24, 2012
Clock counts down to Hakskeen Pan land-speed record bidBack
Cape Town|Engineering|Johannesburg|Africa|Components|Africa|Europe|South Africa|United Kingdom|United States|Christmas|Building|Supersonic Car|Black Rock Desert|Andy Green|Magnum|Nevada|Formula 1|Formula One
© Reuse this
The current land speed record, at 1 227 km/h, was set in 1997 by the Thrust supersonic car (SSC). The Bloodhound SSC, named after a decades-old UK missile, would have the same driver the Thrust had: Royal Air Force Wing Commander Andy Green.
The British team working to break the record on Hakskeen Pan, in the Northern Cape, would first aim for a ‘modest’ improvement on the current record, at 1 300 km/h in 2013, with the ultimate goal of 1 600 km/h to be left for 2014, Green told Engineering News on a recent visit to South Africa.
Officially the fastest man on earth, Green came to the continent to see how work on clearing stones and rocks from the pan was progressing.
“We need to do the run in the dry season, which is the third quarter of 2013 – if every- thing works out perfectly, which is unlikely. We are building something like a spaceship on a very tight budget,” he said.
The Bloodhound, which would have the equivalent horsepower of 180 Formula One racing cars, was designed to cover 16 km in less than two minutes, and to blast from zero to 1 600 km/h – or 1.4 times the speed of sound, and faster than a bullet fired from a Magnum .357 – in under a minute.
To achieve this, it would make use of a rocket, a jet from a fighter aircraft, and the engine of a Formula 1 racing car, giving the car a helluva lot of thrust at 212 kN.
Green said the Bloodhound’s major chassis components should be assembled by Christmas this year, with the engine, rocket and fuel tank added by the first quarter of next year.
This would be followed by a test programme for the hand-built prototype, which would include some airfield runs. However, warned Green, inclement weather such as seen in the UK this year, might thwart this schedule.
The 1 300 km/h attempt would serve to determine “how the desert reacts”, he added.
The team had to consider the impact of various factors, such as shock waves and rolling resistance – with too little of the latter “creating a problem to stop”.
To officially set the record, the Bloodhound would need to complete two runs in opposite directions within one hour. The average speed of the two runs would then be taken as the speed achieved. This meant the ability to control the car’s stopping and, therefore, the turnaround time, would be key to the success of the record attempt.
“We’ll pause, look at the data, do some re-engineering through the rainy season, and then bring the car back in 2014 for the 1 600 km/h attempt. We need to establish the car’s credibility. This is probably the safest way to do it,” explained Green.
The entire attempt would rack up a bill of roughly R200-million, with two-thirds of this already promised.
“It looks like we have money to build the car. The closer we get to the record attempt with something to show, the easier it will be to get sponsors,” said Green.
Should the euro collapse, however, owing to the continued economic turmoil in Europe, it could become “much more difficult” to find sponsors, he added.
Apparently this piece of desert is no longer flat enough. The surface had to be dead-flat and firm, but with some ‘give’ in it, so the Bloodhound’s solid aluminium wheels could dig in a few centimetres and find lateral grip.
South Africa had the biggest and firmest dried-out lake bed in Hakskeen Pan. However, this pan first had to be cleared of stones of all sizes. If one of the Bloodhound’s front wheels flicked up a stone it could come at the car at the speed of a bullet.
This meant the Bloodhound team had been working with the Northern Cape government to ensure the pan could become a world-class race track.
Three-hundred local people had now cleared the 19-km-long and 500-m-wide track for the record attempt. This was a 19.5-million square metre area – the largest area ever cleared by hand, said Green.
Work would now start on clearing the track’s side areas.
“It’s like starting in Johannesburg and clearing two lanes of the N1 all the way to Cape Town– and now you have to turn around and do another two lanes,” said Green.
It would be worth it, though, as Hakskeen Pan could be the world’s “most famous piece of track” by this time next year.
As happened with the job of clearing the track, Green said the Bloodhound team would like to see several franchises, such as T-shirts commemorating the record attempt, go to local entrepreneurs.
The Northern Cape would also benefit from local sponsor MTN erecting several masts to enable global coverage of the record attempts.
“We need to have video of the event and data on the car, and stream it across the globe. We‘ll also have a huge global audience watching this attempt,” said Green.
This meant the remote Hakskeen Pan would have access to some of the fastest phone and Internet coverage in the country – which seems quite appropriate considering what could happen 12 months from now.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other News This Week News
Updated 4 hours ago South Africa signed a nuclear power cooperation deal with Russia on Monday that paves the way for the building of up to 9.6 GW of nuclear power based on Russian technology by 2030, both sides said. The surprise announcement from the sidelines of a International...
Updated 4 hours ago The Mozambican port and rail authorities plan to invest around $3-billion in the coming few years to raise yearly throughput at the Maputo port to between 40-million and 50-million tons by 2020 and to migrate additional cargo from road to rail. Speaking at the...
Updated 6 hours ago A series of unfortunate events led to Johannesburg and surrounding areas experiencing significant water shortages over the past week, City of Johannesburg mayoral committee member for development planning and urban management Roslynn Greeff said at a media briefing...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
While Ekurhuleni-based transformer manufacturer Reliable Transformers currently designs, manufactures and tests its products according to the SANS 780 specifications for distribution transformers and other applicable transformer specifications, it is working towards...
Global endpoint security solutions company Kaspersky Lab has introduced new measures to prevent cyber criminals from accessing sensitive data, alongside its malware-signature and heuristic device analysis detection methods. Threats to mobile devices have increased...
To ensure uptake and a positive impact, Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) networks in cities must be provided at schools, community centres and commercial centres to enable citizens and government to access information that will improve access to and delivery of services....
Eco-estate Monaghan Farm, located near Lanseria airport, north-west of Johannesburg, has taken a new approach to modern living and sustainability with its 517 ha development, dedicated to farm living.
Forklift and lift-truck distributor Goscor Lift Hi-Reach launched the Genie SX-180, the tallest self-propelled super boom in Africa, in Johannesburg last month. “As the official distributor of the well-known Genie range of equipment in Southern Africa, we are pleased...