Enlarge /. Bloodhound LSR made it to South Africa in 2019 to begin high-speed testing, but only with its single-jet engine.
Bad news, fans of land speed records: the project to set a new speed record of 1,609 km / h is again in serious doubt. On Monday morning, the Bloodhound Land Speed Record Project announced that it was looking for a new owner to break the existing record. Whoever enters also needs pretty deep pockets – nearly $ 11 million (£ 8 million).
Trying to set a new speed record in the countryside is likely one of the more difficult activities. You need to design and build a vehicle that goes twice faster than 1,228 km / h in an hour. You need to find somewhere flat enough to drive the car, probably away from neighbors who might get annoyed by the window-breaking sonic booms. And while this all sounds like a serious challenge, perhaps the biggest problem is finding the money to make it all possible.
Bloodhound LSR – formerly Bloodhound SSC – certainly has the pedigree to break the record. It was the idea of Richard Noble, who also mastered the last two successful land speed record attempts. (Noble even sat behind the wheel in 1982.) Ron Ayers, chief aerodynamicist, is another veteran who designed Thrust SSC before Bloodhound. The project identified and prepared a 22 km² stretch of the South African Hakskeen Pan for the trial.
Had everything gone according to plan – and with all I mean by funding – Bloodhound might have passed the 1,000-mile mark as early as 2016, two years after we first looked at the project. But in 2018, the program appeared to have ended and went into administration (a UK equivalent of bankruptcy) after only reaching 338 km / h on slow tests on a runway in the UK.
2019 was a good year for Bloodhound. It found a new owner who saved it from life as a museum curio, and it even made it to South Africa at the start of high-speed testing. Even though it was only equipped with its Rolls Royce EJ200 powerplant, Bloodhound still hit 1,010 km / h that year.
However, to get faster, Bloodhound's other source of propulsion needs to be integrated, a monofuel missile made by Nammo (a Norwegian aerospace and defense company). The cost of doing this, and running the testing program to set a new record, will be approximately $ 11 million, according to current owner Ian Warhurst. In a statement he said:
When I committed to high-speed testing the car in 2019, I provided enough funds to achieve that goal on the basis that we could continue the record attempts by alternative means. Along with many other things, the global pandemic ruined that opportunity in 2020, leaving the project unsupported and delayed for another 12 months. At this stage, the only remaining option is to close the program or put the project up for sale as I have no more immediate funding to pass the baton on and the team to continue the project.
With so many billionaires spending so many billions on their own rockets, you'd think one of them could find $ 11 million behind a couch to make a little more history.