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Bloodhound supersonic car project axed

Category: Environment,Science & Tech

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Media captionThe Bloodhound car was tested in Newquay, Cornwall, last year

A 1,000mph race car project has been axed meaning the supersonic vehicle is on the market for the price of a Ferrari.

The Bloodhound supersonic vehicle - built with a Rolls-Royce Eurofighter jet engine bolted to a rocket - is all but finished.

The Bristol-based team behind it was aiming to beat the existing land speed world record of 763mph (1,228km/h).

Driver Andy Green said the car was now available at a cost of about £250,000.

'Need a few million'

It was set to go for the record-breaking speed in South Africa, where a 18km-long, 1,500m-wide track at Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape has been prepared for it.

"You're going to need to find a few million to get it running to full speed," said Mr Green who added he knew a team of engineers "who could help".

"We have basically completed the main structure, the desert is ready, we just need the funding."

Previous test runs at Newquay Airport in 2017 saw Bloodhound reach speeds of 200mph (320km/h).

Mr Green said he would "love to see the car run" and said it was still possible that it could happen.

"If somebody is out there with a quarter of a million there is a car there. There is still a chance that Bloodhound could run.

"As far as Christmas presents go, that's the one I'd like."

Image copyright BLOODHOUND SSC/STEFAN MARJORAM
Image caption Supporters have paid to have their names printed on the tail fin

The main structure of the vehicle has been built already with "shakedown" tests a year ago working to plan.

But failure to secure the investment forced the firm financing the project into administration.

"Since [then] we have worked tirelessly with the directors to identify a suitable individual or organisation who could take the project forward," joint administrator Andrew Sheridan said.

"Despite overwhelming public support, and engagement with a wide range of potential and credible investors, it has not been possible to secure a purchaser for the business and assets."

Mr Sheridan added: "We will now work with key stakeholders to return the third-party equipment and then sell the remaining assets of the company to maximise the return for creditors."


Why has Bloodhound failed?

Jonathan Amos, BBC Science Correspondent

Bloodhound is a private undertaking. It is funded through donation, sponsorship and partnership.

It has excelled at leveraging all three, but ultimately this funding model has not delivered sufficient cash to fully sustain such a complex venture.

The last two-to-three years have been an especially tough environment in which to raise financial support.

The investment landscape is difficult, in part because of Brexit uncertainty, but principally because many large brands that might once have put their name on the side of a car to build awareness are now using other marketing tools, such as social media.

The project had got to the point that the South African government had cleared an area of stones in which to attempt the record and several rockets that were to be used have proved their worth.

Developed by the Norwegian aerospace and defence company Nammo, one was launched into space for the first time at the end of September. The Nucleus rocket flew to an altitude of 107km from the And√łya Space Center.

Bloodhound would use a cluster of three Nucleus motors in addition to the Eurofighter EJ200 jet.

But ultimately, despite all of this being ready, there was not enough money to get to the final hurdle.


Image copyright BLOODHOUND SSC
Image caption The vehicle was tested at Newquay Airport

The project has planned on running on Hakskeen Pan towards the end of 2019, when the water in the lakebed evaporated and the ground had become dry.

The Bloodhound would have tested at 500-600mph (800-965km/h) before tests approaching its top speed in runs during 2020 or 2021.


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