Page last updated at 21:30 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 22:30 UK

Bloodhound diary: Speed record

RAF fighter pilot Andy Green intends to get behind the wheel of a car that is capable of reaching 1,000mph (1,609km/h). Powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, the Bloodhound car will mount an assault on the land speed record.

Wing Cmdr Green is writing a diary for the BBC News Website about his experiences working on the Bloodhound project and the team's efforts to inspire national interest in science and engineering.

He says the latter presents "a huge task", but is worth the effort. He adds: "If we want to live in a high technology low-carbon world in the near future, then someone is going to have to build it for us, and that someone needs to be inspired now".

Bloodhound (Andy Green)
The team took a show car to the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Every month we get together for a team meeting to discuss how all areas of the project are progressing - funding, engineering, public relations, education, and so on.

One of my contributions to these meetings has been a series of updates on the search for a desert in which to run Bloodhound.

Following recent tests, we've found out that surface preparation can be done adequately in South Africa, but not so easily in the US.

I've also started to look at the finer detail, such as where we would put the tracks, where the team would live, and so on. The interest in the team is electric; they really want to get the car built and get out there.

Every new day is a day closer to our objective - it's hard not to be a bit excited.

Wing Cdr Andy Green on the new attempt

The engineering is coming on well in most areas, with incredible support from our product sponsors (over 140 to date). In its current configuration, the car uses asymmetrical wheels.

We're currently re-visiting the wheel design, looking at a symmetrical design.

The proposed symmetrical wheel may prove to be stronger, lighter and cheaper - which are all good things when there are incredible G-forces at the wheel rim.

This month we've also agreed a range of "down" loadings, or downloads, for the wheels (to summarise, never less than static weight on each wheel, and never more than a 2:1 ratio of weight distribution between the front and rear wheels).

This has been the result of 18 months of mathematical modelling and research, so it's an important step for us.

These loadings affect stability, so now I've got some idea of how the car might handle and can start to think about the driving in more detail.

Asymmetrical wheels (Bloodhound SSC)
Engineers are re-visiting the car's wheel design

Our main problem area is still the aerodynamics required to deliver these downloads.

Bloodhound team member Dr Ben Evans and his team are producing impressive amounts of data, looking at some fascinating variations. We need to make sure that we pick the optimum combination of wheel, suspension, fin and bodywork layout.

We've even taken a jump sideways, to look at reversing the positions of the jet and rocket. After getting over the surprise of how it looks, it has some clear advantages. The question is: will the rocket tear up the surface if it is that close to the ground?

We're still researching that one - I don't want to drive into a trench on the return run.

On the subject of driving the car, I was lucky enough to do some racing in the Elise Trophy Cup recently.

It's not that I harbour any long-term ambitions to be a race driver - it's not fast enough for me! But it got us some publicity, a little extra sponsorship and some car-handling practice for me.

Being a fighter pilot is fantastic preparation for the land speed record, but being a race-driving fighter pilot is even better.

Money is tight, as always. Still, if you're going to launch a high-tech engineering project in the same week as the recession kicks in, then it's to be expected. We're still moving forward, despite the recession - and we've got some great new options for funding coming up, so watch this space.

The public response to Bloodhound continues to be astonishing. We've just taken the show car to Goodwood Festival of Speed for its public unveiling. It was great to watch people come into the pavilion and just stop dead in disbelief at the sight of it.

As a result, over 230 new members signed up to our supporters club there and then, unable to resist the chance to come and see the real thing as we build and test it in the UK. One question we heard a lot was: "Where will you build it?"

We're about to find out, with the four cities bidding to host us, and the bid proposals now coming in, we'll soon know. These are exciting times.

Rocket firing (Bloodhound SSC)
The Bloodhound team has already test fired its full-size rocket

To make a great weekend better, the first firing of our full-size rocket was achieved the following day. As soon as they start firing the hybrid rocket, I'm going out to the Mojave Desert to watch!

Yesterday, I was at Bridgnorth Endowed School (I work with the headmaster's sister, who is an RAF Group Captain) for their annual prize-giving and to tell the pupils about Bloodhound.

Anyone who doubts that we're inspiring children should have come with me to Bridgnorth. About 100 children sat spellbound for over an hour while I told them what we're doing, including all the of the science behind it.

Structural design, aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, wheel design, cockpit instrumentation, data analysis - they just loved it all, including the video of Thrust SSC dropping a sonic boom.

Thrust SSC is the current holder of the land speed record, having reached a speed of 1,228 km/h (763 mph) on 15 October 1997.

In two years' time it will be Bloodhound SSC making the booms - and children all over the world will be watching. Inspiring the next generation? I think we're well on the way.

Bloodhound SSC
1. Titanium or composite wheels - rear wheels sit outside bodywork, front wheels are steerable to comply with land speed rules
2. Driver sits behind front wheels and in front of engine air intake duct
3. Carbon fibre and titanium bodywork for optimum aerodynamic performance, reaching top speed over 4.5 miles. Same distance required for stopping
4. Bloodhound powered by Eurofighter jet engine with hybrid rocket attached, enabling car to accelerate from 0-1,050mph in 40 seconds
5. Fins maintain stability and downforce to keep car on the ground
6. Air brakes slow car at highest speeds; parachutes slow car at mid-speeds; finally, driver halts car with carbon fibre brakes

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