Cockpit revealed for Bloodhound supersonic car
Unveiled at a special event in Bristol, UK, the Bloodhound land speed team showed off the cockpit that will be driver Andy Green’s "office" for his record attempt run in 2015 and 2016. Although Green holds the current world land speed record of 763 mph (1,227 km/h), the challenges in attempting to break the 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) barrier will be significant for both pilot and the design team.
According to Bloodhound, the custom crafted monocoque by URT Group required 10,000 hours, five types of carbon fiber weave and two different resins to complete. Three different thicknesses of aluminum honeycomb core were sandwiched between the carbon fiber layers. At the thickest point of the monocoque – 25 mm (1 in) – there are 13 layers of carbon and aluminum condensed together. All this compositing and layering translates into a monocoque that weighs only 200 lb (91 kg).
The lightweight cockpit bolts directly to the chassis, right next to the jet, rocket and racing car engine. During its attempt to break the 1,000 mph mark, the Bloodhound’s carbon fiber forward section will need to endure aerodynamic loading of three tonnes per square meter. At these speeds the smallest rock entering the cockpit from the front wheels could be deadly, so the team chose to add ballistic armor to the passenger area to shore up safety measures.
The space above the cockpit has also been designed to purposely create shockwaves so supersonic air doesn’t reach the engine at speed. This disruptive aerodynamic trickery will essentially slow the air down to 600 mph (965 km/h) at 1,000 mph and keep the air from surging in the engine.
Inside the car, Green will be looking out of a custom-made acrylic windscreen. Designed by PPA Group, two layers of plastic are heated and stretched then bonded together. The result is a windscreen that is thicker than a fighter jets and reported capable of withstanding a 1 kg (2.2 lb) hit up to 900 mph (1,448 km/h). The design team notes that because of the windscreen’s angle, the driver will be looking through 50 mm (2 in) of acrylic and not just 25 mm.
Green accesses the cockpit through a hatch in front of the engine intake. To avoid the hatch accidentally getting sucked into the engine at speed, special high strength latches capable of withstanding loads of 2.5 kN (0.25 tonnes) were designed.
The overtly aeronautical dashboard bears little resemblance to a conventional automotive version. First, the speedometer reads out in mph and Mach figures. Green will need to rely on this gauge as he’ll surpass Mach 1 (768 mph/1,225 km/h) well before he (hopefully) reaches his destination of 1,000 mph. Speed indicators are also in place to help him fire the rocket and braking systems when needed. Interior lights were also built into the design as the team will most likely be prepping the car in the early, pre-dawn hours.
On the left of the custom 3D-printed titanium steering wheel are gauges that will provide the driver with critical hydraulic pressure readings, as well as temperatures in the braking and airbrake systems. To the right, are individual gauges that monitor and communicate key information regarding the Bloodhound’s three engines.
The engine trifecta as it were consists of an EJ200 jet engine, a couple of Nammo hybrid rockets and a racing engine. Over 210 kN (21 tonnes) of thrust will developed by the jet engine/hybrid rocket combination, while the race engine is in place to feed the rocket 1,000 liters of concentrated hydrogen peroxide in around 20 seconds.
In a nod to the reliability of analog, and in case of computer failure, the team has incorporated two bespoke Rolex devices into the dash. An analog speedometer dialed up to 1,100 mph (1,770 km/h) is in place, while an analog chronograph will help track the jet engine’s start up and cool down times.
In order to reduce driver distraction during the run, key controls have been designed into that custom titanium steering wheel. In a very Playstation move, buttons on the front of the "wheel" control the Bloodhound’s airbrakes, parachutes and EMCOM radio, while triggers on the back prime and fire the hybrid rockets.
Behind the steering wheel are what appear to be steps from a Stairmaster, but in reality the configuration consists of the right pedal controlling the jet engine and the left managing the wheel brakes. According to the team, the wheel brakes will only contribute roughly one percent of braking during the run. The bulk of the braking will come from the parachutes and airbrakes.
During his 12 mile (19 km) run to break the 1,000 mph mark, Green will be seated in a custom-fitted carbon fiber seat, complete with 5-point harness, where he’ll enjoy a clean supply of oxygen through an RAF-style Adom mask. In the event of an accident, a Willans fire suppression system has been installed that will activate should sensors detect a problem.
The Bloodhound still has to go through a gamut of test runs before its eventual record-breaking attempt on the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa. The first scheduled test will be in 2015 where it will undergo 200 mph (321 km/h) tests on the Aerohub runway at Newquay in the UK.
From there the team will take the car to South Africa where high speed runs up to 800 mph (1,287 km/h) will take place. These results will be analyzed and any technological or engineering revisions will be made to the vehicle before bringing the vehicle back to Africa for the attempts at the record.
In the first video below, driver Andy Green takes a look at the exterior of the new cockpit. The second video shows the inside.
Source: Bloodhound SSC