Bloodhound SSC: back on track

Posted on 17 Nov 2016 by Jonny Williamson

After 12 months of stalling, the Bloodhound SSC Project now has the financial backing it needs to go the distance. The Manufacturer reports.

Cash injection

Following a year of financial struggles, the Bloodhound SSC team announced that Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (ZGH) as its prime sponsor and official automotive partner in a three-year agreement.

The deal, signed in August, is the largest in the history of the project and means plans for challenging the world land speed record in 2017 are now back on track.

ZGH is the largest privately owned Chinese auto group and has grown rapidly over the past few decades. The parent company to Geely Auto, ZGH also owns Volvo Car Group and London Taxi Company.

Geely Auto has four international R&D centres, employs close to 10,000 engineers worldwide and has also established universities, further education colleges and technology schools across China.

Geely joins a distinguished roster of international organisations supporting the engineering adventure, including Rolls-Royce; Castrol; Rolex; Parker Hannifin; Atlas Copco; STP; Lockheed Martin; Nammo; ThyssenKrupp, and Otto Fuchs.

Jaguar Land Rover continues in its role as technical partner to the project and its V8 engine will remain the auxiliary power unit used to power the oxidiser pump for Bloodhound SSC’s hybrid rocket.

The partnership will see Geely Auto technology used in BLOODHOUND SSC; Geely Group vehicles used in South Africa throughout the record campaigns; the provision of design and engineering support, where required, to help the project achieve its goals; promotion of Bloodhound SSC across Asia; and the team’s STEM inspiration programme rolled out across China.

Richard_Noble_9524 (Image courtesy of Stefan )
Richard Noble project director, Bloodhound SSC – image courtesy of Stefan Marjoram.

Bloodhound SSC project director, Richard Noble, explained, “We could not have a better partner than Geely: not only is it an international technology company with tremendous vision and capability, but it also shares our passion for innovation and education.

“Its support, both technical and financial, means we can now plan next year’s record-breaking challenge with confidence. It also means we can take our STEM inspiration message to a vast new audience, which is great for science and engineering, but also for promoting Great Britain.”

Race ready

The recent signing of these major deals means the Bloodhound SSC Project has sufficient funding pledged to complete the car and advance preparations for the its first world land speed record campaign.

Project engineers are returning to the project, having taken short-term contracts elsewhere; and a major programme of work to become ‘race ready’ now begins in earnest.

Bloodhound SSC Infographic - Nov 2016The car displayed to widespread acclaim in September 2015 was a ‘trial-build’, without fluids, done in part to check the fit of more than 3,500 bespoke components. Conventional motor manufacturers typically build hundreds of pre-production prototypes to finalise details.

As there is only one Bloodhound SSC, the project used this opportunity to see if brackets were in the right place, key components were accessible for servicing and one-off parts manufactured to the correct tolerances.

The team has now largely disassembled the 13.5m-long streamliner, documenting the process in fine detail to create the Bloodhound User Manual. Where necessary, modifications will be made and new parts created before Bloodhound SSC is reassembled and transported to Newquay Aerohub for tie-down tests with its EJ200 jet engine and Nammo rocket system in place.

Overall, Bloodhound SSC has been assembled with bespoke parts from more than 340 companies.
Overall, Bloodhound SSC has been assembled with bespoke parts from more than 340 companies – image courtesy of Bloodhound.

The Rolls-Royce jet is a tried-and-tested component used to develop the production engines for the Eurofighter Typhoon. Development of Nammo’s rocket resumed this October and will culminate in ‘tie-down tests’ with the system installed in the car at Newquay Aerohub over July and August 2017.

With these tests successfully completed, the team will then do a slow speed (220mph / 354km/h) shakedown test along Newquay’s runway. This will also be an opportunity for the team to practice live-streaming data and imagery from the car – a key aspect of Bloodhound’s mission to share the adventure with a global audience.

By this time, the team’s rapid response and turnaround crews will have familiarised themselves with their Geely vehicles and completed extensive training ready to support high-speed running in South Africa.

This will include rehearsing ‘the pit stop from hell’: an intense 40-minute period between timed runs during which time the car will be checked, refuelled and made ready for the return leg. This ‘race within a race’ is crucial to setting a record: in 1997 a delay of just a few seconds cost the team the top prize.

Bloodhound SSC Tail Fin
Bloodhound’s 2m-high tail fin is required for stability at high speed.

With the shakedown test successfully completed, Bloodhound SSC will be loaded onto a CargoLogicAir Boeing 747 freighter to be airlifted to Upington, South Africa.

The team rehearsed the procedure in July of this year at the Farnborough International Airshow. Bloodhound SSC will then be transported by road to the team’s desert base at Hakskeen Pan. Under the guidance of operations director Martyn Davidson, 16 container-loads of equipment will have been shipped in advance and a self-contained village complete with workshop and TV studios set up.

On the road again

Despite a difficult year that saw the Bloodhound SSC Project hindered by lack of funding, this recent of flurry of investment means the team is back on track for the World Land Speed Record Challenge in Autumn 2017.

The new sponsorship has allowed the team to quickly progress through some key developments over the past few weeks, and promises to see the crew continue on this upward trajectory all the way to the main event next year. The Manufacturer will keep you posted!