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Cornwall set for UK's largest rocket test in 20 years

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 28, 2012

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Engineers planning to test what they describe as Europe’s largest hybrid rocket car next week say they are confident it will work – so confident the exercise is being streamed live on the internet.

The Bloodhound Supersonic Car, developed by the education initiative the Bloodhound Project, will be put through its paces at Newquay Cornwall Airport on October 3.

The Bloodhound is described as the largest rocket car of its kind to be designed in Europe and the biggest rocket test in the UK in 20 years.

Chief engineer Mark Chapman said any result from the first full testing of the car would be worthwhile.

“Pretty much anything we get out of Newquay next week will be a success,” he said.

“It is unusual that [the public] are seeing a rocket very early in development.

“When you see this thing work or fail it will be the first time we see it work or fail.

“The worst thing that could happen is nothing could happen, but that also lets us know what else has failed.”

Mr Chapman said the car, which is powered by a jet engine and a rocket, could partly explode, but that was all part of the development test.

It will attempt a record- breaking speed of 1,000 miles per hour by 2014.

The pencil-shaped car is 12ft long, 18in in diameter and weighs 992lb. In its ultimate form, it is expected to generate the combined output of 95 Formula 1 cars.

Rocket engineer Dan Jubb said showcasing the first test was all about educating young people about science and technology, which is a key aim of the Bloodhound Project.

“The key point is that this is not us developing a rocket and then inviting everyone to come and see the final sign-off where success is basically assured,” Mr Jubb said.

“This is about Bloodhound sharing the engineering scientific challenges and letting everybody see the development as it happens.

“I don’t think there’s been this level of access to a rocket at this level of maturity since probably Apollo.”

The first test will be conducted inside a hardened air shelter. Data and video will be streamed to engineers, students and media in an adjacent building. It will also be streamed live on the internet.

The record-breaking speed attempts will be tested on the Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, South Africa, by 2014.

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