Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Bloodhound diary: South Africa is the place

RAF fighter pilot Andy Green intends to get behind the wheel of a car that is capable of reaching 1,000mph (1,610km/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.

Bloodhound SSC (Curventa)

After months of waiting, lots of great things have come together all at once.

The final design of the car, the move into our new HQ, the confirmation of our run location and the new animation video - which is fantastic!

Bloodhound SSC (Curventa)
Rear view: Jet engine now sits on top of the rocket

Last October, we had a concept that demonstrated that we could do 1,000mph.

Thirteen months later, we've now got the design that will do 1,000mph - and we're about to start building it.

The obvious change is that the EJ200 jet is now on top of the car and the rocket is underneath - which is a better mechanical solution for the jet intake, the rocket load cells and the fin (now mounted directly on to the car's chassis, rather than the rocket which needs changing between runs).

Better still, the previous violent pitch down from a high-mounted rocket has been replaced by a gentle increase in pressure on the rear wheels as the rocket fires - which makes the car more stable and easier to driver. Gets my vote!

The new shape is now being "optimised" through something called a "parametric study" - basically, a whole series of part-models of the back end, to give us the very best aerodynamic shape for the rear of the car.

Andy and Northern Cape premier (Bloodhound SSC)
The Northern Cape Premier flew in to announce the backing

With access to Intel's super-computers (they've just signed as our IT partner), we've now running some of the biggest computers in the UK and getting aero results in hours, rather than days.

I'm typing this sitting the in old Maritime Heritage Centre, now known as the Bloodhound Technology Centre (and unofficially as the "Dog House") on the Bristol waterfront.

It's a very smart two-storey building, design office upstairs and a huge open space below.

Looking down at this empty workshop floor, I can already start to picture the world's fastest car being assembled here over the next year-and-a-half. I can't wait.

And when we've finished building the car, where are we going to run it?

The surprise answer is Hakskeen Pan, in the Northern Cape of South Africa - a desert that we haven't mentioned before.

'Dog House' (Bloodhound SSC)
The new technical centre, or "Dog House"

Originally discounted because of a road running across it, we recently found out that the road has been closed and can be graded out - which will leave a flat, hard surface over 20km (12 miles) long and 5km (3 miles) wide - the perfect site for the world's fastest race track.

Better still, the Northern Cape Government has agreed to prepare the track for us - and the Northern Cape Premier and her team flew over to the UK to make a joint announcement with us on this week - fantastic!

We've found the perfect location in Hakskeen and the perfect partner in the Northern Cape Government.

We've now got a home to build the car, a design that we can start building and a 1,000mph track to run Bloodhound on. I'm still slightly in awe of the fact that this car is going to do 1,000mph - really. That's faster than a jet fighter aircraft has ever been at ground level - as our new animation below shows. Enjoy.


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