The launch of a campaign to break the world’s land speed record in South Africa takes place in Cape Town this weekend, with thousands of visitors expected to attend. A replica of the 'Bloodhound Supersonic Car' will be unveiled. The jet and rocket-powered car is designed to reach speeds of just over 1,600 km/h.
With a weight of just over 7 tonnes and length of 13.4 m, the engines produce more than 135,000 horsepower.
UK engineers are still hard at work building the vehicle which will arrive in South Africa towards the end of the year for a series of test runs before it attempts to break the world land speed record in 2014.
The tests (which will in themselves break the sound barrier) and the record attempt itself will take place on Hakskeenpan in South Africa's Northern Cape, where a vast area of desert is currently being cleared of 6,000 tonnes of stones to prepare the desert track.
“We are pushing the limits of engineering and technology, but it is the kind of project that will inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers – and that is one of the main reasons why we’re doing it,” said project director Richard Noble, who is the holder of the land speed record between 1983 and 1997.
Noble reached 1,019 km/h driving turbojet-powered car named Thrust2 across the Nevada desert in 1983.
In 1997, he headed the project to build the ThrustSSC, driven by Andy Green, an RAF pilot, at 1, 228 km/h, thereby breaking the sound barrier, a record first for a land vehicle.
The task of driving the Bloodhound in South Africa will fall to Wing Commander Green, who will lie feet-first in the vehicle. As the car accelerates from 0-1,609 km/h in 42 seconds, he will experience a force of approximately 2.5g (two-and-a-half times his body weight).
Organisers say to condition his body for these intense g-forces, he will practise in a stunt aircraft, flying upside-down over the British countryside.