When you see a Formula 1 car flash past you at nearly 330 kmh, with its 2.4-litre V-8 engine screaming at 18,000 rpm, it's hard not to be impressed. But when you meet a man who has driven - yes, driven - faster than the speed of sound, things get put into perspective a little
Britain's Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green created history in 1997 when he clocked 1,227.99 kmh in the American state of Nevada in his Thrust SSC. The first time anyone had broken the sound barrier in a four-wheeled vehicle on land.
Gunning for more
Fifty-year-old Green isn't finished, and is attempting to go in excess of 1,600 kmh. And his new Bloodhound SSC has a rather unbelievable connection to the HRT F1 car that Narain Karthikeyan drove at the Buddh International Circuit for the Indian Grand Prix.
"It's astonishing to think that his (Karthikeyan) car engine is our rocket pump!" Green told HT. "It's actually one of the three engines in the Bloodhound SSC; the other two being the jet engine and the rocket motor."
The 750 horsepower Cosworth engine will, in fact, be required to pump 800 litres of fuel for the rocket in just 20 seconds. Despite having (literally) gone faster than a speeding bullet on land, Green states that the physical challenges in his line of work are different to that for Karthikeyan.
"Narain will experience in excess of 3 Gs (three times the force of gravity) while accelerating and decelerating," said Green. "I, however, will only experience half of that. But Narain will only experience those forces for about 3-4 seconds each time while I'll have to do so for over 20 seconds."
And here you thought it was hard to relate F1 to the real world. So how does one even begin to do so with Green's supersonic endeavours?
"The thing we (Bloodhound team) want the most is to leave a legacy of science and technology," said Green.
"We want kids and future generations to look at what we did and say 'how did they do that?' and of course all of the technology and knowledge of the project will be available online.
"The whole project is about pushing the limits of what is humanly possible through science because the kids of today are going to be responsible for both our countries in the future."
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