Supersonic Bloodhound Hybrid Rocket Test Success

Wednesday, 3 October, 2012

• Biggest rocket fired in the UK for over 20 years
• Key milestone in the development of the world’s first 1,000 mph car

Today, at the Aerohub, Newquay Cornwall Airport, the BLOODHOUND Project successfully tested its unique hybrid rocket system, for first time.

At 4 meters (12 feet) long, 45.7 cm (18 inches) in diameter and 450kg in weight, BLOODHOUND’s rocket is the largest of its kind ever designed in Europe and the biggest to be fired in the UK for 20 years.


During the test, which was streamed live to the web, the rocket burned for 10 seconds, generating 14,000 lbs of thrust – 30 – 40,000 equivalent hp. Sound levels at the rocket nozzle reached 185 dB, many times that of a Boeing 747 at take off.
Bloodhound’s engineers are now reviewing the data from the experiment; enough to fill a telephone directory, to further develop the system.

Initial results show that peak thrust of 14,000 lbs was achieved with the Cosworth F1 engine at a lower throttle position, delivering 820 psi, 20 more than the engineers were expecting, giving them even more confidence in the system. This is the equivalent to an 8,000 lbs monopropellant rocket that Ron Ayers, the Project’s Chief Aerodynamicist, believes we need for running in the Hakskeen Pan, South Africa in 2013.

The rockets steady smooth combustion is the result of a ground breaking Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) study that mathematically mapped the burning fuel grain within the rocket chamber. This resulted in a unique star shaped rubber fuel grain that produced perfect mach diamonds in the rocket's plume.

Today’s test represents the most significant milestone yet for the global education programme as it develops the world’s first 1,000 mph / Mach 1.4 racing car. 

BLOODHOUND’s engineers were able to evaluate the performance of the complete rocket system for the first time, comprising of the Cosworth CA2010 F1 engine, High Test Peroxide oxidiser tank, custom designed gearbox and software and Falcon Hybrid Rocket, designed by 28 year-old self- trained rocketeer Daniel Jubb. 

The experiment was conducted inside a Hardened Air Shelter (HAS) with data and video streamed live to an adjacent building where the engineers, guests and media watched it live on a big screen.

The term ‘hybrid’ stems from the fact that BLOODHOUND’s rocket combines solid fuel (a synthetic rubber) with a liquid oxidiser (High Test Peroxide, or HTP) reacting with a catalyst (a fine mesh of silver) to produce its power. Although technically demanding, this approach is, we believe, the safest and most controllable option, allowing driver Andy Green to shut off the flow of oxidiser and extinguish the rocket, if required.

During the test, the Cosworth F1 engine revved to 17,500 rpm in order to fire HTP into the rocket at a pressure of 600 lbs per square inch, equivalent to holding a large family car on the palm of your hand, and with enough flow to fill a bath in 5 seconds.
The rocket system is still at a very early stage in its development and the test was not without risk. Questions the engineers are looking to answer include: did the system perform as expected? Did the silver catalyst break up under the force of HTP? Did the full size rocket produce the expected amount of power? The last time a rocket was demonstrated at this early level of maturity was during the Apollo programme.

The Team also used the event to practise the safety protocols and rocket handling procedures they will use in 12 month’s time, when BLOODHOUND begins its supersonic campaign at Hakskeen Pan, South Africa.

The Team wishes to acknowledge the help and expertise of those companies and individuals who have made this test this possible, including:

  • Cisco – for video and networking support
  • Cosworth – for systems, software, F1 engine and expertise
  • The South West Development team and the Aerohub, Newquay Cornwall Airport – for the test location and logistical support.
  • Rainham Industrial Services – for developing and managing the safety case.
  • Arco – for supplying all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


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