The team simply hasn’t raised enough money yet.
It looks like we may have to wait a little longer to see a car break the 1,000mph barrier. After wowing crowds with its supersonic car back in September last year, the British-led Bloodhound SSC team has announced that it’s pushing back its land speed record attempts after failing to secure the funding it needs.
The car, which is powered by a Rolls-Royce EJ2000 jet engine from an RAF Eurofighter Typhoon, a cluster of Nammo hybrid rockets and a supercharged Jaguar V8 engine was originally meant to fly out to South Africa later this year to try and beat the record (763MPH) set by the Thrust SSC in October 1997. If that was a success, they would then return to the perfectly flat 12-mile Hakskeen Pan track to break the 1,000MPH barrier.
Under the new plans, the first land speed record attempt will be rescheduled for April or May of 2017, ensuring that higher speeds won’t be attempted until 2018. The team also planned a “slower” UK test in Cornwall this year – that remains on track. It’s a frustrating setback considering that the course has already been prepared and the car is a few tweaks from being ready.
“What we need now are the funds to run the car, and money is just a function of perseverance and timing,” says Project Director Richard Noble.
“Doing something truly unique, on a global scale, with such high technology, is never easy – ask Richard Branson or Elon Musk, but that makes the story we’re sharing with millions of supporters all the more interesting.”
Noble insists that money is coming in from sponsors, but not at the rate it needs. By pushing back the launch, the team hopes it can secure enough to continue its tests, iron out any inefficiencies, and get the car running at its very top speed.
“It’s frustrating,” said Mark Chapman, the team’s chief engineer, “but if we are going to the desert, we need a team of a certain size and that costs money. In reality a lot of our sponsorship deals are still in negotiation.”
Chapman blames factors such as the Christmas holiday, Easter and the end of the financial year rather than any specific slow-down in world markets or the low price of oil. “We’re not dealing with anyone specifically in those [oil or Asia] markets,” he said. “And besides, our existing sponsor Castrol has been massively supportive. It just takes this amount of time to go through the sponsorship negotiations and due diligence, and we can’t spend what we don’t have.”
The Bloodhound project is still continuing and Chapman says the car is virtually ready to run, and he is committed to getting the car to St Mawgan airfield in Newquay, Cornwall this autumn.
“We need to test in 2016 just from a project perspective,” he said, “and that is achievable.”