A 1,000 mph (Mach 1.4, 1,600 km/h) car came a step closer to reality today when the BLOODHOUND SSC team successfully test fired the vehicle’s rocket motor system. Conducted in a hardened aircraft shelter originally designed to house Tornado fighters at Newquay Cornwall Airport, the hybrid rocket motor burned for ten seconds, generating 14,000 lbs (60 kN, 40,000 bhp) of thrust and a roar of 180 decibels.

Designed to break the current land speed record of 763 mph (1,228 km/h), the four-meter (12-ft) long, 45.7-centimeter (18-in) diameter rocket motor weighs 450 kilograms (992 lb). It’s the largest hybrid rocket designed in Europe and the largest to be fired in Britain in 20 years. During the test, the Cosworth F1 engine – that feeds hydrogen peroxide into the motor to burn the solid rubber fuel at a temperature of 3,000ºC (5,400ºF) – provided 20 psi more pressure than expected.

The solid fuel burned very smoothly, which the team attributed to the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) study that mathematically mapped the burning fuel grain within the rocket chamber. The team feels that these results give them greater confidence in the rocket system.

Cross section of BLOODHOUND's rocket motor

The next step for the BLOODHOUND team will be to carry out 14 more static firings in order to determine if the system is safe for a manned vehicle, followed by a series of low-speed runs of the assembled BLOODHOUND car in the UK before heading on to South Africa for the record runs.