back to article Bloodhound Super-Sonic-Car lacks Super-Sonic-Cashflow

Twenty-one years to the day since Wing Commander Andy Green cracked the land-speed record with ThrustSSC, the UK outfit attempting to go one better with Bloodhound has entered administration. The Register spoke to the team behind the Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car (SSC) back in May and found the plucky outfit on the receiving end …

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  1. MatthewE

    Surely get on kickstarter and sell advertising space or something to get your silly logo or meme printed onto the car, or maybe naming rights on it etc.

    1. confused and dazed
      Unhappy

      The thing is a rolling billboard as it is .... hoping someone with more cash than me can step up ..... we need inspirational stuff like this !

      1. Dale 3
        Go

        Rolling billboard

        Whoever buys advertising space better keep their message short.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      They already done all the usual "get your name on the X", and asking for small donations over the last ten years. Not much left to hope for except a generous donor who's got a spare £25M lying around.

  2. Semtex451
    Joke

    Approach Top Gears Hamster, could be third time lucky (JOKE)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not wishing to sound unsympathetic, but...

    ...how smegging long have they been at this?

    I seem to recall seeing Bloodhound promo vids at least 10 years ago. That's a deep money pit. The longer it drags on, the more chances for a link in the chain to fail. They've taken so damn long, that the arguably inevitable has happened.

    Sad but perhaps a valuable lesson to any/every one else in British engineering, frankly

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Not wishing to sound unsympathetic, but...

      I have to agree. Not sure how much they have spent to this point but £25m is a lot of dosh to spend on a pretty pointless willy waving expedition. Ultimately who cares, its an engineering dead-end.

      To put it in context - Reaction Engines has been pootling along for much longer and for much the same kind of budgets (low tens of millions). If I had £25m to flush down the bog I know where mine would go.

      1. LucasNorth

        Re: Not wishing to sound unsympathetic, but...

        exactly, this is not going result in any innovation of consequence, it's unbelievable that there were enough fools out there to get it this far.

      2. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Not wishing to sound unsympathetic, but...

        "Mr Speedy, I hear you broke the thousand while on a test run."

        "Yes boss, I felt that everything was running perfectly and just tipped the throttle some more. It was the greatest moment of my life"

        "Yes, I'm glad you're thrilled, because I've invited all the staff along to show their appreciation. All together now..YOU BASTARD!!"

        "What? What was that for?"

        "And you too get to share in the prize we all won today"

        "Eh?"

        "Your P45"

  4. JimC

    Always a problem

    You read the story of Campbell and his Bluebirds: always struggling for sponsorship money. But the complexity and money needed to reach the sorts of speeds now is just too far. Lower hanging fruit for sponsors elsewhere.

  5. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    What happened to that £350m Boris was going to get by not paying his EU subscription ? Can't they have half a day's worth of that ?

    1. simonlb

      Priorities

      Our government can afford to chuck £1.5 billion at a bunch of odious, bigoted bastards to ensure it has enough of a majority to stay in power, but can't find a piffling £25 million to ensure this project succeeds. Is that because they wouldn't all personally benefit from doing it? Just asking.

  6. LucasNorth

    Really, who cares? This project is one of the dumbest things I've seen in a long while. An absolutely idiotic waste of time and money

    1. ScissorHands

      So is climbing the Everest. Or going to the Moon. Or replying to you.

      "Because it's there".

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        So is climbing the Everest. Or going to the Moon.

        It's not really the same. I'm the first to suport NASA/ESA and their exploratory missions, and if this had some novel engine technology, or if it were likely to lead to some new advances in science, it might be worthwhile. As it is, it's really just a jet aircraft without wings, that 'flies' at 0 ft. All that a success will demonstrate is that they found a pilot with more nerve than brains and fun game for rich people with money to spend on toys.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          @Phil O'Sophical

          I'm more than happy to have dead end projects relieving rich people of their cash if keeping engineers in gainful work is a by product :)

          On the upside there must be some useful research here given the engineering involved with supersonic wheels.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "given the engineering involved with supersonic wheels."

            Who really needs supersonic wheels?

            Probably, the solution is keeping the air over wheels at subsonic speeds, exactly how jet engines need to keep the incoming air stream below the speed of sound....

            And yes, the only "technological advance" could be useless wheels able to stand a few seconds at that speed before being thrown away. Everything else will come from old researches already done in aerospace - it's not cutting edge stuff - give me a real and usable electric car with a 1609km range, and that would be a real breakthrough.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "if this had some novel engine technology, or if it were likely to lead to some new advances in science, it might be worthwhile. As it is, it's really just a jet aircraft without wings, that 'flies' at 0 ft."

          In two sentences, you've contradicted yourself. No-one else has "flown" a jet aircraft without wings at those high speeds at 0 ft. All the stuff we've done near to ground level at those speeds has been using rocket sleds tethered to metal rails which are mounted a meter or so above ground level, and even then the shockwaves are poorly understood.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            >No-one else has "flown" a jet aircraft without wings at those high speeds at 0 ft.

            The record for doing it on rails is Mach 8, so building a car that is 1/5 the speed of a train to meet some arbitrary 1000mph (why not 2Million furlongs/fortnight?) is silly

            1. Giovani Tapini

              It's not just about innovation

              Although there clearly is some just to make the thing work.

              One of the real reasons was to get kids interested in science and engineering. The next generation have to grow into being tired, cynical, seen-it-all El Reg Commentards, not start out like that.

              Most kids will only worry about the engineering in the phone long enough to open instagram which is not really a great place IMHO.

              I for one will be very disappointed if the project ends up folding entirely.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "a jet aircraft without wings at those high speeds at 0 ft"

            This thing has wings to keep it on the ground, or it would fly away.

            You can easily find Navy jets breaking the sound barrier very close to the surface - nice photos and vides of the compression waves are taken - so, really nothing impressive.

            And to study the shock waves, as if were useful (you can't already fly at supersonic speeds over inhabited areas, would you drive through them?), you don't really need such kind of device. This is the classic Book Of Guinness feat - a book full of useless records.

            1. macjules Silver badge

              Re: "a jet aircraft without wings at those high speeds at 0 ft"

              You can easily find Navy jets breaking the sound barrier very close to the surface - nice photos and vides of the compression waves are taken - so, really nothing impressive.

              Sadly, not in the UK .. not even with the POS F-35

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: "a jet aircraft without wings at those high speeds at 0 ft"

                There are people who stretch capabilities and push envelopes even if on the face of it it seems pointless. You also get people who stay well within safe boundaries.

                Thank goodness for the former, I think if the latter had their way their anodyne world would be joyless.

  7. }{amis}{
    Headmaster

    Corporate Risk

    I suspect that part of the reason why they are struggling to find large sponsors is the risk of the driver going splat live on telly whilst wearing the companies colors.

    I say this as I have direct experience of this thinking I helped organize a sponsored row across the Atlantic and HSBC would only allow their logo on the boat if it was removable and applied only within sight of the destination.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Corporate Risk

      "HSBC would only allow their logo on the boat if it was removable and applied only within sight of the destination."

      Well, I was never a customer of theirs, and now I certainly won't be.

      1. }{amis}{
        Pirate

        Re: Corporate Risk

        "Well, I was never a customer of theirs, and now I certainly won't be."

        I work in the finance industry HSBC are A$$holes but they are not that far off par for the dirty industry they are in and are positive pussycats compared the specialist hatchetmen like the Great Vampire Squid.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Corporate Risk

          Easy solution - just put it on the bottom of the hull, somewhere on or near the keel...?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Re: Corporate Risk

      > "...the risk of the driver going splat..."

      The bigger risk is going boom. Two words: "Monopropellant rocket." There's a reason that type of rocket isn't used very often. The best source for info on the subject is the dynamite book Ignition! (PDF). A real eye-opener.

      But I suppose they could mean it's a solid fuel rocket, in which case it cannot be shut off once started, which might be even worse.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Ignition!

        That book on liquid rocket fuel is a fantastic read, even for people with very little grasp of chemistry. It conveys the paranoia of the time (and thus lack of concern for the toxic nature of some candidates) along with a great insight to the complex issues around rocket fuel choice.

        And yes, several people have been killed due to monopropelent failures during development and deployment. Such as the unfortunate sailors on the Kursk.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There's monopropellants and then there's monopropellants...

        "The bigger risk is going boom. Two words: "Monopropellant rocket." There's a reason that type of rocket isn't used very often."

        The Nammo hybrid engine which seems to be the one ultimately intended to power Bloodhound uses hydrogen peroxide as the oxidiser.

        <https://www.mynewsdesk.com/no/nammo/pressreleases/nammo-ready-to-launch-norways-first-space-rocket-2572034>

        "Nammo’s new engine is instead based on a hybrid design, combining both liquid and solid fuel. This approach has two main environmental advantages: only water and CO2 are emitted, and the oxidiser (hydrogen peroxide) is safer than other liquid fuels, and non-poisonous. Also, the rocket shares the benefit of liquid fueled engines in that it can be throttled, turned off – and restarted."

        It's easy enough to leave out the solid fuel from such a design and just use catalytically decomposed H2O2 as a monopropellant. It's not enormously effective, but it's very reliable and fairly safe when compared to pretty much any other rocket propellant. I'd guess that's what they're going to be using as a monopropellant, rather than something exotic and horribly dangerous as described in the "The Hopeful Monoprops" chapter of Ignition (fascinating read, indeed).

        Somewhere in the Haynes Avro Vulcan manual, there's a bit about the Blue Steel stand off bomb. The things used H2O2 as an oxidiser. Apparently, it wasn't a big problem for the ground crew: standard procedure was to have one bloke working the H2O2 hose, and another one stood by him with a water hose running. In the event of an H2O2 spill, the water hose chap just squirted whatever had just caught fire or started to smoke, and the problem went away.

  8. anK

    What this project has really done...

    If anyone has been following the project, there are two goals: the land speed record, and getting people in the UK (and South Africa) more interested in STEM subjects. 1000's of children have been able to learn more about STEM subjects thanks to this project. No government money involved, just sponsors and individuals putting in money to help, and lots of volunteers (disclosure - I am one of those volunteers). As far as the tech goes, no-one has even got even close to getting a land vehicle to go this fast (apart from the previous record breaking team, many of whom work on this project). The technical problems solved, and the feedback into research and industry, are immense. Some of the universities involved have seen a doubling of their engineering intake based on their work on the project.

    Lots of very positive things coming out of this project. I really hope they get the funding to continue both sides of the project.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: What this project has really done...

      > 1000's of children have been able to learn more about STEM subjects thanks to this project.

      Or 10,000s of children have learnt that STEM is just about fast cars and rockets and jet fighters and so is just for boys that want to make lots of noise and kill things, so not for them.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: What this project has really done...

        So not long ago, another hypegasm surrounded the launch of another superfast vehicle. This time made of 'vibranium*' (subject to litigation) and intended to hurl passengers along inside a vacuum tube at 700mph. So the good'ol Hypeloop. Somehow, that project's swallowed up many times more than Bloodhound has raised, and is much less likely to work. Bloodhound should have stressed it's vehicle has an electric motor & stuck a small solar cell on the canopy, then they'd be rolling in money.

        *aka 'carbon fibre'

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What this project has really done...

        Wow, you really are a dinosaur from a bygone era aren't you?

      3. anK

        Re: What this project has really done...

        >Or 10,000s of children have learnt that STEM is just about fast cars and rockets and jet fighters and so is > just for boys that want to make lots of noise and kill things, so not for them.

        Actually, the Bloodhound project education programme revolved around practical lessons with the children learning around forces, propulsion, drag, friction, use of experiments to improve ideas, etc. And the girls where just as interested in all of this - so not just the boys. The project has some brilliant female engineers that are great role models for these children too.

        Yes, the car was the "hook" but there was a lot of learning about physics and other STEM topics going on.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What this project has really done...

        Yet Another Anonymous coward: Or 10,000s of children have learnt that STEM is just about fast cars and rockets and jet fighters and so is just for boys that want to make lots of noise and kill things, so not for them.

        The shoddy generalisations are strong in this one. As is the awareness of the sort of thing that capitvate and engage audiences of all ages and sexes.

        What exactly would you have preferred? Let's have the details so that we can mock your proposal with equally daft and irrelevant generalisations.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: What this project has really done...

          >What exactly would you have preferred? Let's have the details so that we can mock your proposal with equally daft and irrelevant generalisations.

          Arduino, Raspberrypi, Lego. Something where kids can believe that THEY can get involved with the technology. That technology is something THEY can do.

          Real STEM is something like CERN or LHC or HST.

          "Toys for boys" projects like ISS or Apollo where you tell kids that only test pilots can do science, and "science" is only about having the fastest or most dangerous vehicle does not encourage kids to do STEM (it might encourage them to become management consultants)

          1. ChrisC
            Flame

            Re: What this project has really done...

            ""Toys for boys" projects like ISS or Apollo where you tell kids that only test pilots can do science"

            Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!?

            Who, exactly, do you think is responsible for actually doing pretty much all of the science in projects like these? Clue, it's not the meatbag at the pointy end of the big loud fast moving thing. Now, before anyone accuses me of belittling the involvement the ISS/Apollo astronauts, the fast jet test pilot etc. have in such projects during the development phases, or how much genuine scientific work they do once the project, I'm not - I realise they've pretty much all got STEM degrees, doctorates etc. and are bloody capable people even before you add in their additional talents for flying etc. But suggesting that they're the only people who can "do science" in such a project is so utterly and ludicrously far from the truth. Or do you really think a Saturn V or ISS or F-35 or Bloodhound or whatever just magically appears out of an anonymous warehouse somewhere all ready to go without anyone needing to lift a finger to design, build, test, redesign, retest etc. etc it?

            Don't even get me started on the equally idiotic implication that it's only men who can do whizz-bang stuff like being test pilots, astronauts etc...

            It's bad enough that we struggle to recruit good quality STEM-trained people to work in the UK (and yes, there are plenty of employers out there involved in STEM work and only too keen to take on new people, despite all the comments thrown around by the ill-informed about the death of British industry), but reading through all of the negative comments here I guess it should really come as no surprise - whyever would any youngster want to dedicate their live to a STEM career when surrounded by so much naysaying and pessimism and whatsthepointism?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What this project has really done...

              Margaret Hamilton (shock, a woman!) was behind the Apollo guidance software, which introduced some major developments in software design - and that was just one of many things she was involved with. So shall we cut the crap about these kind of thins only being of interest to boys? Just look at any of the schools participating in the education programme and you'll see lots of girls being fully immersed in it, and enjoying it.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: What this project has really done...

                It helps to get kids excited and interested if you're doing something exciting and interesting, like crashing through the sound barrier with a sand rooster-tail making sonic booms. It gets their attention and inspires.

                Those CERN collision capture images are wonderful but they don't have the same in your face appeal as noisy fast things.

                Once they are interested then you can work up to aerodynamic loads at transonic speeds and 95kg wheels spinning at 10,000 RPM on sand, and the pressure and sand build up inside the wheel enclosure.

                We NEED *spearhead* projects to lead STEM and drag it along behind. These are more important than they appear on the face of it, in fact essential. It is the blindness of simplistic thinking of government people to this simple enough idea that has caused the loss of so much technological ideas and industrial capability.

                FFS £25 million is peanuts. Give it now, and while we are there get Reaction Engines funded and out there with a higher public profile.

                1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                  Re: What this project has really done...

                  the dead end element though.

                  Its not even "a jet plane without wings" as someone said up there.

                  Its a rocket fired horizontally ffs. a missile.

                  Landspeed record , sound barrier done , job finished , move on .

                  Surely Da kidz can get excited about something a bit less futile and pointless?

                  Theres nothing in the whole exciting world of science exciting enough to pique their interest except this futile gesture? whats the point studying it then?

                  Tell you what if you made a robot (physical , not software) that could hold a ps4 controller and play fortnite , you'd have 10 million converts instantly.

      5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: What this project has really done...

        Quote

        Or 10,000s of children have learnt that STEM is just about fast cars and rockets and jet fighters and so is just for boys that want to make lots of noise and kill things, so not for them.

        Wow nice trolling.

        STEM actually makes................ pretty much everything on your desk, under your desk and indeed the thing you are sitting on.

        We always see the same old comments whenever anyone tries something new, blah blah blah what point is it, how much is it going to waste, nothing good will come of it.

        R & D into a project like this is never wasted, I bet theres 10 kids out there that have taken part in the various bloodhound programs and they have ideas....... and every so often , people like that come up with the humdinger of an idea that will change the world, and I'd far rather see that 25 million wasted on bloodhound if it can inspire the next generation of designers and technical types to actually take up a STEM related profession instead of sitting in an office for 40 years double checking benefit form 5634/B/56C

      6. TechDrone

        Re: What this project has really done...

        I dare you, in fact I double date you, to say that to my missus. Or, come to think of it, to my sister-in-law. One does really scary engineering & chemistry stuff of the variety that flattens the nearest city if it goes wrong. The other, well lets just say she thinks bloodhound would be a really interesting project to work on if she wasn't making lots of noise with things that could quite possibly kill you if you stood in the wrong place. I've got the boring route job messing with this computer stuff.

      7. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: What this project has really done...

        Or 10,000s of children have learnt that STEM is just about fast cars and rockets and jet fighters and so is just for boys that want to make lots of noise and kill things, so not for them.

        Quite, It seems getting kids into STEM is justification for any mad cap engineering scheme.

        There must be smaller , easier cheaper more useful projects that would grab the kids attention, perhaps one they could even be involved in. In the classroom maybe.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What this project has really done...

      We already got the kids designing cars so we get useless SUV and light trucks instead of more clever and clean ones. Last thing I want next cars to be designed by people who believe that having rockets over the roof is a good idea.... but IMHO the real children are those involved in the project, and those who believe that Fast&Furious and Top Gear are good shows...

  9. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I'm not certain projects like this need to be justified based on "scientific advance", but I am interested when they offer the chance. One aspect of this sort of thing is that modern land speed record chancers face a difficulty in that after the Campbell-era focus went off the idea, the tyre manufacturers stopped producing the tyres capable of being spun to such high revs without either disintegrating or walking off the wheel, which is why Thrust used solid wheels if I remember correctly (it is possible I am conflating two different stories here and I can't be arsed to look it up).

    Anyway.

    I read all the linked stuff trying to get the skinny on the Nammo "hybrid" rocket motor, but am no nearer understanding why the Nammo motor is any different in principle to any other binary fuel rocket motor. Is it all about the throttling and re-startability? I am aware that this is a significant technological achievement in and of itself, but what is it about the Nammo motor that warrants the appellation "hybrid"? Nothing in the linked materials (including those on Nammo's own site) offer any insights.

    1. Essuu

      Re: Bah!

      It combines a solid fuel with a liquid oxidiser. It's very controllable compared to a traditional firework^Wsolid rocket and not as difficult to work with a dual liquid motors.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        I think that was the same approach as at Copenhagen suborbital. The advantage is that solid is easy to handle, but it can be closed down in case of trouble.

    2. anK

      Re: Bah!

      re: the wheels - solid machined metal - no tire would stand up to the G-Forces alone on the rim.

      re: the hybrid rocket - the rocket is a tube lined with a form of rubber, then the oxidiser (hydrogen peroxide-based) is pumped into the rocket and combines with the rubber to burn. It's a hybrid because it is not a solid fuel rocket (think big firework) or a rocket using liquid fuels that get mixed together. The good part about a hybrid rocket is it is easy to turn it off when you need to stop as opposed to a solid fuel rocket, and is less complex than a rocket that has liquids only.

      1. error 13

        Re: Bah!

        > the wheels - solid machined metal - no tire would stand up to the G-Forces alone on the rim.

        They're obviously not making the wheels of large enough diameter

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