Bloodhound Supersonic Car group tests hybrid rocket engine

6 pictures

The hybrid rocket engine is one of three power plants which the Bloodhound team hopes will help net them the world land speed record in 2016

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Britain's Bloodhound team has taken a slow-but-steady approach toward its goal of breaking the world land speed record, but it appears to be paying off. Bloodhound, along with its partner, the Norwegian/Finnish aerospace and defense group, Nammo, have successfully tested a large hybrid solid/liquid rocket engine at Nammo's test facility in Norway. Described as the "latest in the evolution of hybrid rocket motor technology," it's one of three power plants that will be used by the Bloodhound Supersonic Car when it makes its record attempt in 2016.

According to the Bloodhound team, the rocket engine has been under development by Nammo since 2010 with the support of the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP). Instead of using a combination of a liquid oxidizer and fuel, or a solid propellant, the new engine uses hydrogen peroxide as the oxidizer and a synthetic rubber, reportedly hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, as fuel. The group says that this combination allows the rocket to be throttled like a liquid-fuel rocket, yet is also safe, economical, and environmentally friendly.

During the October 7 test, the rocket engine fired for 16 seconds, generating 3 tons (30 kN) of thrust before being shut down under control by closing the oxidizer inlet valve. However, the Bloodhound team says that the engine is capable of a 25-second burn and could have been started again.

When the Bloodhound Supersonic Car makes its record attempt in South Africa in 2016, it will use a cluster of three of the hybrid engines. In addition, it will employ a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine from a Typhoon fighter, and a V8 CA2010 Formula 1 engine to power a high-capacity fuel pump for the rocket.

The Bloodhound group plans to carry out a series of test firings of the engine next year before its planned world record run the following year, where the team will try to reach 1,000 mph (1,609 km/h). In addition to powering Bloodhound to drive at over the speed of sound, Nammo also sees the new rocket engine as the basis for its North Star Rocket Family, which may one day be used to launch small satellites into orbit from the Andøya Space Center in Northern Norway.

The test firing is shown in the video below.

Source: Bloodhound

View gallery - 6 images

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