When you’re driving a car faster than the speed of a bullet, the surface conditions of your track are vital.
There aren’t a lot of places suitable to run a 1000mph car and it took Bloodhound SSC
, the project attempting to break the land speed record, several years to choose the Hakskeen salt Pan in South Africa as their track.
The Hakskeen Pan floods regularly during rainy season (October– March) which makes its surface flat and smooth– ideal for high speed testing. However, it is only when it is completely dry that the surface has the load bearing capacity to support the car, which weighs over 7 tonnes and has 6 times the horsepower of an entire grid of F1 cars. As such, it is crucial to the success and safety of the project to know as much as possible about the surface conditions on Hakskeen Pan.
The Pan is remote and because it covers an area of 20 million m2, would be almost impossible to monitor accurately and regularly from the ground.
Imagery from SSTL’s remote sensing subsidiary company, DMCii
, helped the Bloodhound team to understand more about the environment they’re operating in: quantifying flooding to understand the drying-out process and identify areas on the surface that could be problematic and will require closer monitoring before carrying out a test run.
The latest image, taken by the SSTL-built UK-DMC2 satellite
on the 25th April showed that the Pan would take just weeks to dry out from the heavy flooding that occurred in March, instead of the months previously thought. This information is vital to the team who are currently planning a wheel test that is due to take place once the Pan has completely dried out.
It’s not just the record that they’re trying to achieve; outreach and education are also an important part of the Bloodhound project. Members of the team have been visiting 5,000 schools across the country to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The lack of future engineering skills in the UK is a pressing issue for the entire high tech sector and an area that SSTL not only supports but also actively participates in.
We can’t wait to see the Supersonic car in action. Go Team Bloodhound!