In 1997, Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green (now 53) strapped himself in the Thrust SSC (Super Sonic Car). He flashed across the Nevada desert, in the U.S, to set the world land-speed record of 1,228 kilometres per hour, an achievement no one thought would ever be beaten.
Now Andy is working with aeronautic engineers to build the Bloodhound Supersonic Car; with the ambition of breaking the magic 1,000 miles an hour barrier.
Along the way he is hoping to inspire a new generation of engineers.
The first plan is to reach 800 miles an hour (1,287 kilometres per hour) next year in South Africa. Should that go as planned then the goal for 1,000 miles per hour will be set for 2017.
The Bloodhound SSC is a $32 million car that looks more like a spaceship.
It employs three power drives – a Rolls-Royce EJ200, a jet engine from a Eurofighter Typhoon; a cluster of Nammo hybrid rockets synced together; and a Jagua V8 engine whose sole purpose is to drive the oxidiser pump.
“It’s an aeroplane, but on four wheels,” said Mark Blackwell, a project technician.
As stated previously, one of the main goals is to beat the 20 year-old record. But another strong motivation is to give kids around the world a taste of modern science.
Richard Noble explained to AFP how the Ministry of defence told them they have trouble recruiting engineers.
“In the U.S. during 1961 to 1972 the number of PhD’s achieved in science increased by 300 per cent.” This was primarily because of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Since then interest in science has dwindled.
But the Bloodhound SSC is hoping to change that.
Noble said footage of the car, and the maths and science relating to it, is being uploaded to a website available to students and teachers.
“Kids respond very well; (they) set up rocket clubs, (and) do more maths,” said Kirsty Allpress from the Bloodhound Education Team.
“What you’ve got here is an enormous global online game.”