back to article Bloodhound SSC reaches the end of the road for want of £25m

Bloodhound, a British project to strap a rocket to a car and fling it at the horizon, is officially dead, as administrators finally pulled the plug on the venture. The project entered administration in October and now, alas, it looks as though time has run out to find the remaining cash needed to mount an attempt on the land …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did they not try a GoFundMe page ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Waste

      This project is an example of a waste of engineering. Nothing new would be invented or learned. Only impressive to incompetent engineers and the feeble minded. Just an ego trip.

      1. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

        Re: Waste

        "Nothing new would be invented or learned."

        By you, perhaps.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Paul Herber

    Someone

    Someone must want to be a national treasure ...

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Someone

      I guess politics. So Amazon* delivers! But Amazon's a US company and sponsoring a British team could be seen as un-American. Otherwise, it may put sponsors off as being un-green. It may not even have a single battery on board. Or possibly the risk of failure and fatality puts investors off. A shame though as it was one of those crazy stretch goals that may inspire people.

      *Or the Mafia Piza Company..

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: Someone

        ...as being un-green

        How can it be un-green with this pilot?

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Someone

        Or possibly the risk of failure and fatality

        The previous record holder before Thrust SSC, the Blue Flame could break the speed of sound as a design, the driver wanted to break the speed of sound, but was not allowed to break the speed of sound by the sponsors.

        Once a the land record was achieved, the Blue Flame was stopped from further racing and ended up travelling around the country as a marketing exhibit for the association of gas suppliers. For this exact reason - in UK or USA nobody wants a fatality to spoil such a wonderful marketing campaign.

        So, yeah, not like we have not been there before with the land record.

        In any case, the real issue here is that Thrust SSC was limited in its choice of sponsors. Due to the use of Rolls Royce and Ministry of Defence assets it could not ask any of the places where they could get that money in 15 minutes. 25M is a bag of peanuts for the usual "football team and Chelsea mansion" buying suspects. They also would not care about any casualties. The more the merrier - no publicity (except the one that gets you into a USA sanctions list) is a bad publicity.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Not Blue Flame

          Blue Flame was not the record holder before Thrust SSC, Thrust 2 was, Blue Flame was prior to that.

  3. Wellyboot Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Bu**eration!

    Had this achieved the 1,000mph I doubt anyone would have tried to go faster for a very long time.

    1. tfewster Silver badge

      Re: Bu**eration!

      Green/Noble/Thrust SSC have held the official record for 21 years, but the Australians are still in the running to reach 1000 mph: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_speed_record

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Bu**eration!

        I (kinda) see a point in making ever faster wheel driven cars, but why don't they go for full monty and just clip the wings and affix proper wheels to an SR-71 or Saturn V or whatever is available?

        1. caffeine addict Silver badge

          Re: Bu**eration!

          I (kinda) see a point in making ever faster wheel driven cars

          This. A thousand times, this. The aerodynamics involved in 1000mph is mind bending, but that's about it. Getting an internal combustion engine up to 450mph through powered wheels is (IMO) a massively more impressive feat. The wheels, the drive, the rubber, the challenge of actually getting enough air into the engine? That's much cooler than a jet or rocket on wheels.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Bu**eration!

          "why don't they go for full monty and just clip the wings and affix proper wheels to an SR-71 or Saturn V or whatever is available?"

          Even aircraft that are quite capable of breaking the speed of sound, don't/can't do it at an altitude of 0m. The increased air density, and the reflection of the shockwaves off the ground would basically destroy a wingless aircraft. Instead all the aerodynamics have to be designed with 1000mph at 0m as a requirement.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Bu**eration!

            Rocket sleds (cough trains cough) have done something like mach-8

            1. Fr. Ted Crilly

              Re: Bu**eration!

              Er, The sleds used at the likes of Sandia National Laboratory Rocket Sled Track Complex (RSTC) are held down by the track for just these same aerodynamic reasons.

  4. werdsmith Silver badge

    I can't help feeling that this means that a life will be saved.

    1000MPH on the deck is just nuts. I love all the engineering and tech though.

    1. Floydian Slip

      Andy Green would not drive the car if he felt his life was at risk. Part of the project has been extensive CFD research and testing and Andy G has a maths degree so not only understands the project but can understand the underlying math too.

      This is such a shame. For the likes of Dyson, Branson, Ratliff , the Hinduja bros etc and other billionaire industrialists it's a relatively small sum. Many mega rich musos could have added half a mill each.

      So sad, after so much effort

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        "Many mega rich musos could have added half a mill each."

        Precisely, this is like pocket change to some few people. It would be a place in history for them as the person that made it happen. Once they're at 1000mph as has been mentioned, I doubt they'll bother trying for more then. Still, it's currently in administration so still time for someone to save them.

      2. Alfie Noakes

        I am surprised that (James) Dyson hasn't chipped in there? Very British, high-speed air, etc.!

        Gotta be worth a punt (anyone got his phone number?)

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Dyson is too busy being a lying cunt about Brexit.

              Well, if I had a spare £25m, I'd support it. Remnants presumably prefer to hand money over to Brussels though.. but enough about politics.

              I might insist on one small change. For some reason (probably infrasound), jet engines give me a buzz. So I may want the design modified to recreate that classic Vulcan howl..

    2. Brian Miller

      No passenger seat

      How many people get killed in crosswalks, versus high speed runs? I've been on three hoods, nearly under two buses, and I have no idea how many close calls. And a highly engineered speed run is as dangerous or more so as being a pedestrian? Really?

      If they had installed a passenger seat, then I'm sure there would have been investors.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: No passenger seat

        @Brian Miller

        If you did the maths (i.e. risk calculations) correctly, you'd compare the ratios of pedestrians/pedestrians killed with speed run pilots/speed run pilots killed. I don't have the figures but my best guess is that being a pedestrian is less life risky.

        Regading your accident records: did you ever consider to watch out for other traffic? (SCNR)

    3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      But the right nuts!

      1000MPH on the deck is just nuts. I love all the engineering and tech though.

      Not sure which is more nuts. Doing 1000mph in an aircraft at low level while people are shooting at you, or doing it on the ground. But that's all part of the tech fun. Flying straight & level @1,000mph is relatively simple.. doing that on the ground safely is a whole different challenge.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Dyson

        Seeing as my post got deleted (probably because I used a naughty word), here's my second attempt.

        Dyson is too busy being a hypocrite over Brexit to invest in this.

  5. Wibble

    Barriers

    The sound 'barrier' is a physical barrier to pass through. Thrust SSC did a superb job; well done to them. Nobody can ever take the record away from Andy Green: the first man to break the sound barrier on land (unlike Chuck Yeager who may not have been the first - https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4154).

    Always remember the TV film of the Thrust SSC crew being asked "was it worth it" and then hearing the two sonic booms and a cheer.

    1000mph is just some arbitrary speed. Admittedly a difficult one to break, but arbitrary all the same. May as well aim for 1000 nautical miles per hour, or 1000 Linguine per nanocentury (apologies for mixing measurement 'standards')

    1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: Barriers

      Thrust SSC came very close to killing Mr Green. It was little more than two of the biggest engines Noble could scrounge strapped to something with wheels, there were good reasons as soon as the bangs were heard they packed up and came home rather than push for a bit more.

      The amount of design effort in Bloodhound is in another league. It should be capable of breaking the sound barrier in a controlled fashion rather than with fingers firmly crossed. It's worth doing just to prove the aerodynamics of that feat are solved. If anyone is thinking of posting "but but but aircraft break the sound barrier all the time" I strongly suggest you go do some reading instead.

      I agree though that once above the sound barrier numbers are pretty arbitrary. Damn shame.

  6. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker
    Unhappy

    The photo caption

    "Not coming to a desert near you soon, or ever."

    FTFY.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Although £25m sounds a lot, compared to the money put into a few Olympic hopefuls or heaven forefend a money pit like HS2 it is a national shame that the govt. could step in to save this. After all one of the main objectives of the Bloodhound team was to fire up enthusiasm in hi-tech in a potential workforce currently destined for McJobs in the service sector. But then no govt. since the mid 60s has really shown any belief in our tech sector. :-(

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      After all one of the main objectives of the Bloodhound team was to fire up enthusiasm in hi-tech in a potential workforce currently destined for McJobs in the service sector.

      Something which it completely and utterly failed to do, because it was using established technology to achieve a pointless ambition.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        because it was using established technology to achieve a pointless ambition

        Ok then. The ball is in your court. Make STEM attractive through a project to build a new energy efficient pedestrian crossing, or a toaster that is diversity sensitive.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          You need to learn the concept of a "false dichotomy". But thanks for playing.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "After all one of the main objectives of the Bloodhound team was to fire up enthusiasm in hi-tech in a potential workforce currently destined for McJobs in the service sector."

      The required £25m is probably less than if the Govt. had tried to do the school visits etc that the Bloodhound team already did. The project probably saved the Govt. more than they now need.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        The schools visits were provided by a separate charity with separate funding.

  8. Happy_Jack

    Shame

    It's a shame it failed for a lack of money, but I can understand people not being too enthusiastic about financing someone else's expensive hobby.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shame

      "...someone else's expensive hobby."

      ...that and jingoism.

      Sure, it would certainly have been an achievement but beyond that I find it difficult to see any value in it because I just can't see how the tech could ever be transferable to anything else.

  9. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    It was always a pointless vanity project. The engineering isn't particularly interesting or groundbreaking (jet engines? meh. hybrid rocket? only slightly less meh.) and the achievement of propelling a retired RAF pilot as cargo in a straight at high speed for a few miles isn't particularly exciting. Good riddance to the bloody thing.

    Let's try and excite people with genuinely novel engineering solutions to real problems, not by throwing money at an arbitrary target.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let's try and excite people with genuinely novel engineering solutions...

      The floor is yours, sir. You've criticised what others have done, let's see you come up with something considerably better. And not just a basic idea, you will presumably be happy to get a good starting percentage delivered as well.

      1. Justthefacts

        Actually, that is a good idea....

        I am a believer in grand challenges. All too often, as a generation we aimed at the foothills rather than the stars. Taking into account a bit of over-promise, under-deliver, that delivers poo emojis.But the true dreamers never build anything either.

        If there were a more generally recognised Grand Challenge Foundation, dreamers could publically submit the crazy dreams to public vision. And equally crazy engineers might have solutions to turn them into reality. If it also had some sort of voting on the worthwhile things to achieve, maybe governments could fund X-Prizes without the bureaucratic safety-seeking of grants.

        1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Actually, that is a good idea....

          All too often, as a generation we aimed at the foothills rather than the stars.

          I fully agree. Then again, Bloodhound SSC iswas doing exactly that, too - literally. Even a small bump might inflict serious harm, let alone foothills.

      2. Jan 0
        1. Esme

          @Jan 0 - nah, Skylon. Same team, better design (HOTOL was deeply flawed, mainly due to having engines at the back and fuel tanks up front and the ensuing changes in centre of gravity as the tanks emptied during flight making the thing unstable), with a genuinely new type of engine that they have pretty much proven can work to create a doable SSTO with (or be used for supersonic transport planes)

    2. Tim 37

      Even a Typhoon can't do 1000mph at sea level so once you consider that this thing would have had to do that rolling on the dirt it would have been quite a feat. I'm sure at one point there was talk of them changing the wheels between the two runs as the wheels would have been toast after the first. Then when you consider the development budgets of any aircraft that can reach those speeds, I'm surprised the project lasted as long as it did!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The engineering isn't particularly interesting or groundbreaking (jet engines? meh. hybrid rocket? only slightly less meh.)"

      The interesting engineering isn't in the propulsion but in keeping the thing stable and controllable at that speed, on the ground and without a track.

      It's whether there's any value in doing that that I have to question.

  10. Chubby Chuckles

    National disgrace

    THE UK has a long and illustrious history of breaking the land speed record and 1000mph is probably the last big one. Noble broke the sound barrier at BlackRock, has a wonderful track record of getting it done.

    Presumably no big corporate sponsors would pony up enough, but you'd think the MoD airforce marketing buffoons would see the value of sponsoring this, and find some dodgy slush fund somewhere to get this done in the national interest. hopefully someone will buy all the kit and resurrect it? I really hope so.

    Good post on Scarf & Goggles https://scarfandgoggles.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/welcome-back-to-the-1930s/

  11. HKmk23

    Pointless

    Waste of money.

  12. MonsieurTM

    The collapse of this delightfully eccentric attempt makes me feel ashamed to be British (I donated about £1k over the years). For the want of £25million (+stuff). What is wrong with British society that the highly wealthy have lost the ideals of philanthropy?

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Maybe the wealthy and philanthropic thought this was a pointless project too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "What is wrong with British society that the highly wealthy have lost the ideals of philanthropy?"

      How do you think they got highly wealthy? Not by giving it away to people.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      What is wrong with British society that the highly wealthy have lost the ideals of philanthropy?

      The British aristocracy never did philanthropy. Industrial revolution businesses did, but that age is gone as the likes of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google show.

  13. MJI Silver badge
    Unhappy

    So sad

    I know someone who was involved and the cancellation of this attempt is a national disgrace.

    So sad.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: So sad

      A national disgrace? No other nation wants to do it. Nobody cares. The Bloodhound project has been on its uppers for years, desperately trying to sell the the notion that it had anything to offer and any chance of success.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

          Re: A national disgrace? No other nation wants to do it. Nobody cares.

          So the Aussies can do it (possibly) for $450,000? Thanks for (possibly) confirming what many folk have said: Bloodhound was a waste of money AND it would (possibly) have been too late.

        2. Ochib

          Re: A national disgrace? No other nation wants to do it. Nobody cares.

          "aussieinvader" Sounds like something from the Oz version of Anne Summers

  14. Bluto Nash
    Trollface

    Toast sensitivity

    or a toaster that is diversity sensitive.

    Aren't ALL toasters diversity sensitive by the fact that they can create any number of shades of "not white" on your bread?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Long overdue

    I'm surprised this saga has been going on for that long.

    First time I heard about it was around 2010 when I was involved with Serco and they were one of the sponsors. 8+ years to strap a rocket to a car. What a waste of time and money.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But why??

    Seriously, what is the point of this? Colossal sum of money wasted for the sake of Engineering Phallus measuring....

    Does proving you can go 1000Mph on the ground actually do anything to benefit humanity or the planet? No...it's just a childish fantasy for people with more money than sense (not too much money, however)

    Glad somebody finally saw the light and canned this whole sorry affair, just a shame it's wasted that much time and money for so many people to prove literally nothing.

  17. dank_army

    Crowdfunding?

    We are in the age of crowd-fund-my-pointless-hairdryer-on-wheels-that-also-makes-coffee era. I would have thought they'd get at least half that cash in a few days.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Crowdfunding?

      I follow this sort of thing fairly closely - and these days we're more like in the miserably failing to crowd-fund-my-pointless-hairdryer-on-wheels-that-also-makes-coffee era. Kickstarter et al. is no longer new or glamorous, and years of either failing to deliver completely or delivering half-assed stuff eroded the initial enthusiasm to a mere shadow of its former self; and that's not even speaking of the amount of competing rubbish that raises the noise floor sky high nowadays. Finally, altruism and grand ideals are well and good, but out here in the real world projects that actually promise to deliver a product to each of the punters tend to do spectacularly better than the "come share my dream" type. My prediction is they would have brought in less than a single million if they tried.

  18. PScott

    Whats the point?

    Okay, I admit I was intrigued by the bloodhound story...the engineering involved is amazing but to what end? To go faster on land? Been there, done that....WIth competing stories of space travel (eg. SpaceX ), no wonder advertising dollars disappeared...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whats the point?

      The engineering works it's way down to everyday usage in the end, with more understanding of the effect of speed, force, pressure on materials.

      Your Astra wouldnt be doing 100MPH if it wasnt for someone at Vauxhall in the days of old wanting his car to go faster....that meant they needed it be safer at speed (rocket to a skateboard is fun until it goes tits in a big way).

      Even lessons from wars have been used to make modern stuff better / safer / cheaper (WD40 anyone? if you understand the stress you can make it lighter therefore cheaper).

      Yes it's a vanity project....but so was Orville and Wilbur's to fly.

      Think how boring travel would be if it still took 6 months to sail to Aus

  19. ittakestwo

    re Funding

    You have to question the sum of 25 million? Considering the car is already built and has had a shake down run. How does the team come up with this figure, as I understood the program had its main sponsors plus main items be it on loan or given example the turbine engine supplied from RR was donated not purchased?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: re Funding

      shipping it out, staff need paying, hotels, local people employed etc spares, insurance (big part)

  20. Milton Silver badge

    Sorry, but—good riddance

    I'm not without a jot of sympathy for those who invested heart, soul and some cash in this, but really ... it was flippin stupid idea, wasn't it? Others here have already made the point that you could strap any arbitrarily-huge rocket motor to something with wheels, find a long enough, flat enough bit of planet—at which point the "engineering challenges" are about doing some really pointless stuff: (a) keeping the vehicle glued to the ground with its otherwise useless wheels, and (b) preserving the life of someone who didn't need to be in the thing in the first place. Yeah, if it was traction-motivated there might be some justification for seeking a record, but what is the point—what, even, are you proving—with the "fastest wheeled rocket artifically and very dangerously held down by aerodynamic forces"?

    A Land Speed Record makes sense if confined to vehicles pushing off against ground, i.e. traction through wheels. Otherwise it's all just daft contrivance.

    And if they'd succeeded, and the stunt attracted enough interest and cash for others to compete? Aerodynamic forces dominate. You need lots of downforce to ensure wheels remain in contact with ground. The next rival, then, uses AoA and proximity sensors to calculate pitch and separation of chassis from ground. It feeds its computer 10,000 times a second with commands to the downforce aerofoils. The system's purpose is to keep the wheels just barely touching the ground at all times, sufficient for rotational contact but otherwise causing the least possible friction. It is now an aircraft fighting its own ground effect and sheer speed to push down just enough undercarriage to qualify as a "wheeled land vehicle". Silly, isn't it? Why wouldn't all future attempts on the record work this way, making a mockery of the whole concept? As another poster implies, we may be lucky to have been spared the spectacle of Rocketdyne F-1s bolted on to god-knows-what ....

    Despite temptation and hilarious example, I never did install a RR Derwent in my old Chrysler Voyager (...)

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