When we last caught up with Bloodhound, the jet engine-powered earth rocket that has been conducting tests in the desert in South Africa, the team had reached 501 miles per hour and become one of the world’s 10 fastest cars. Now they’ve added another milestone, smashing their most recent target of 600 mph and then some, reaching an astonishing 628 mph.

Video footage captured during the test run on Saturday shows the Bloodhound screaming across the table-flat salt pan, kicking up an awesome fin of Kalahari Desert dust in its wake. The sound as it passes by the camera is jaw-dropping. An analysis showed that the airflow beneath the car went supersonic and stripped paint from an area three meters back from the front wheels.

It took driver Andy Green 50 seconds and just over five miles to reach maximum velocity. He launched the vehicle in “max dry” mode, with no flames visible out of the massive exhaust nozzle, up to 50 mph, then put the pedal down to push the Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine into afterburn mode. Green actually let up on the gas, so to speak, at 615 mph to stabilize the vehicle and deploy the twin parachute to begin slowing down. It came to halt around the 11 kilometer mark — a little shy of seven miles.

With the latest feat, Bloodhound have declared an end to the high-speed test program, which took place over the last few weeks on a 12-mile-long course in a dry lake bed.

The team hopes to break the world land speed record of 763 mph, set by Green driving the Thrust SSC in 1997, within 12 to 18 months on the same course on Hakskeen Pan. The ultimate goal is to determine the size of the rocket needed to go to 1,000 mph.


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