First came the low, cultured hum of the Formula One racing car engine; then rolling thunder as the rocket fired up.
A plume of flame shot out for ten seconds and the roar at the nozzle reached an estimated 186 decibels – louder than a Boeing 747 at take off. Indeed, the racket from the rocket was later claimed to be the loudest man-made noise anywhere in the world.
Such is the awesome power of the British supercar which aims to shatter the land speed record next year.
The moment that scientists at RAF St Mawgan near Newquay, Cornwall test fired the first new rocket built in Britain for 20 years, which will power the 1,000mph Bloodhound
Engineers check monitors showing the Cosworth engine and rocket from Bloodhound SSC inside a hardened shelter at RAF St Mawgan, Newquay, where the engine is on test.
Four years after the project began, the rocket system which the designers hope will help Bloodhound SSC (supersonic car) smash through the 1,000mph barrier has been tested for the first time.
At 12 feet long, 18 inches in diameter and weighing just under 1,000lb, the rocket is the largest of its kind ever designed in Europe and was the biggest to be fired in the UK for 20 years. Yesterday, it was bolted to the floor for the test in a bomb-proof hangar at Newquay Airport, Cornwall, and was only operating at half capacity.
But next year, if all goes well when it is fitted inside the £10million car, the rocket will send the gleaming orange and blue machine racing to 1,050mph.
In the hangar it was surrounded by a ‘water deluge system’ in case it exploded and concrete blocks separated it from other parts of the engine. ‘If it blows up, at least we’ll save something,’ said one engineer. Guests were invited to watch via a video link in a nearby hangar and around 120,000 people around the globe viewed it online.
The rocket is seen here with the 'Cosworth' sign on the side moments before the test.
In its ultimate form the rocket will generate around 27,500lb of thrust – equivalent to about 80,000 horsepower, the combined output of 95 Formula One cars. Earplugs were available yesterday, a wise precaution given that the rock concert said to be the loudest ever – a 1976 show by The Who – reached a mere 126 decibels.
The assault on the record is due to take place in the South African desert at Hakskeen Pan, the site in 1929 of one of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s many attempts. If Bloodhound succeeds, it will reach 1.4 times the speed of sound – fast enough to get from Land’s End to John o’Groats in 51 minutes.
It would also see RAF pilot Andy Green, 50, who will drive Bloodhound, smash his existing land speed record by more than 200mph and become the first man to drive through the 1,000mph barrier. Should the target of 1,050mph be reached, it will also beat the low-altitude speed record for aircraft of 994mph.
Mr Green described what he faces at the controls: ‘2G acceleration, then 3G deceleration. 2G is the equivalent of 0 to 60mph in 1.5 seconds. 3G is the equivalent of coming to a complete stop from 60mph in one second – what most people would call an average car crash.
'Then all I have to do is control three engines and keep it going in a straight line.’
Up to a speed of 350mph, it will be powered by a Eurofighter jet engine. A Cosworth V8 racing car engine is there to pump peroxide fuel into the rocket. A catalyst in the rocket then causes a chemical reaction which generates a temperature of 600C and the rocket ignites, giving the car the massive boost it needs to hit 1,050mph after 40 seconds.
Then, 3.5 seconds and one mile later, it will start to decelerate.
Project team leader Richard Noble said the successful tests were a ‘major milestone’.
A replica version of the Bloodhound was also on display at RAF St Mawgan near Newquay, where 400 people gathered to watch the rocket test.
The bloodhound jet engine that it is hoped will propel the British car to 1,000mph in 2014
Driver Wing Commander Andy Green, left, Defence Minister Philip Dunne, and Bloodhound Director Richard Noble alongside the Bloodhound
The Ministry of Defence is backing the project, and Whitehall chiefs hope young people will be inspired to get involved in science, technology, mathematics and engineering.
A team of five REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) experts will help build and maintain the car over the next two years in the UK, and be on hand during the record attempts in South Africa next year and in 2014.
Philip Dunne, minister for defence equipment, support and technology, said nurturing engineering skills in youngsters is vital to British industry, and the project is a good opportunity for the Army to share its experience and skills.
A soldier cycles past the Bloodhound at the Wellington barracks in central London. Its rocket engine will be fired for the first time this week
The scene at RAF St Mawgan near Newquay, Cornwall where scientists are planning to test fire the first new rocket built in Britain for 20 years.
‘That experience will feed directly back into the front line as they progress through their Army careers,” he said.
Richard Noble, the project director of Bloodhound, said: ‘We are delighted that the MoD and REME will be joining us and sharing in this unique adventure.
‘Their young engineers have great skills and attitude and will make a tremendous contribution to the building and running of the car.’
Source : Daily mail