A supersonic car aiming driven by an RAF pilot with links to Hartlepool has announced the latest stage of its plans to set a new world land speed record.
The Bloodhound, driven by Wing Commander Andy Green, who grew up and went to school in town, aims to set a new 1,000mph world record.
Following successful 200mph trials at Cornwall Airport in October, the team will be targeting 500mph – a key milestone on the journey to setting the new record.
The car is due to run for the first time on a dry lake bed race track at Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, South Africa, in October 2018.
Wing Commander Green, who went to High Tunstall secondary school in the 1970s, said, “Bloodhound 500 is a key milestone on the route to setting a 1,000mph record.
"Building on everything we learned in Newquay this October, we’ll learn a tremendous amount by going fast on the desert the car was designed to run on.”
The tests will be conducted using the car’s Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, normally found in a Eurofighter Typhoon, which produces a peak thrust of 20,000 lbs equivalent to a combined output of 360 family cars.
They will produce huge amounts of valuable information on the car’s performance and handling during one of its most critical phases to reaching 1,000mph.
Engineering director Mark Chapman said: “The track is 19km by 500m, with large safety areas on both sides. This allows us to lay out up to 50 individual tracks side by side.
"This is important as we can’t run over the same piece of ground twice because the car will break up the baked mud surface as it passes.
"We need multiple tracks so we can build speed slowly and safely – going up in 50mph (80km/h) steps, comparing real-world results with theoretical data – and Hakskeen is the perfect place to do this.
“The surface is hard, too, which means we’ve been able to design slightly narrower wheels that reduce aerodynamic drag.
"The desert surface also has a slight degree of ‘give’, which will work with the suspension to give a smoother ride, reducing vibration inside the car.”
The data will also be shared with schools around the world for students to analyse as part of the world’s biggest STEM (Science, Technology, Maths and Engineering) education programme to inspire a new generation of engineers.
During the low speed trials earlier this year, Wing Commander Green, who is also the current world land speed record holder, drove the Bloodhound from 0 to 200mph in just eight seconds.