Rocket Car on Track for 1000 mph Record Run

A rocket-powered car is on track to set a land speed record of 1000 mph, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Bloodhound SSC is the brainchild of Richard Noble, the British creator of Thrust SSC, which was the first car to break the sound barrier when it hit 763 mph on a dry lake bed in Nevada's Black Rock Desert of in 1997 and currently holds the title of world's fastest car. The new vehicle will use not one, but three very different engines to provide the power needed to add over 237 mph to that record, making it a hybrid of sorts.

The first is an 800 horsepower Cosworth V8 from a Formula One racing car, which is used only as a fuel pump in this application, feeding 1.5 tons of fuel into the rocket motor over the course of its planned 22-second burn. Before it does, an engine taken from a British Typhoon fighter jet will be used to accelerate the Bloodhound to 350 mph, at which point the rocket will ignite to propel the 44-foot-long vehicle to a theoretical top speed of 1050 mph.

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After several delays as the one of a kind vehicle has gone through over 10 redesigns, the team is now targeting a 2013 attempt at Hakseen Pan, a dry lake bed in the northwest corner of South Africa. The venue was chosen when it was determined that years of drought had made the surface of Black Rock Lake unsuitable for a wheeled vehicle traveling at the speeds being targeted. Andy Green, the Royal Air Force pilot who drove Thrust SSC on its record run is scheduled to do the same in the Bloodhound.

One challenger to Noble’s effort, the North American Eagle project, has been testing its own rocket powered car in the United States, with the goal of breaking 800 mph. So far the underfunded project has been able to reach only 400 mph, but claims it only needs $500,000 in additional funding to break Thrust SSC's record. Additional sponsors are being solicited, but no timetable exists for a record attempt.

If you are interested in joining this informal competition, a car designed by the late aviation pioneer Steve Fossett that is said to be capable of hitting 900 mph is currently on sale. For only $3 million you can find out if it can.

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