Sometimes I curse the human mind. We have to worry about all sorts of ridiculous nonsense. Why can’t we be like the lilies of the field? Consider the lilies, right? They toil not, neither do they spin. Isn’t that how it goes? Well either way, that’s usually how I’d like to be, without a care, toiling not. Then I see something like the ThrustSSC. It helps me see the beauty in human ingenuity.
There is no earthly reason to want to break the sound barrier in a car. There’s simply no earthly reason to see a gigantic jet engine and say “You know what, two of those would look really nice on my car”. It’s just that weird human instinct to want to break records and go fast. It’s awesome.
On October 15, 1997, the ThrustSSC set the current land speed record (and broke the sound barrier) when it hit a top speed of 763 mph. In the first 16 seconds of its run, it accelerated to 600 mph. Zero to 600 in 16 seconds.
How’s it do it? Well it’s powered by two afterburning Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines, usually used in jet fighters. It is 54ft long, 12ft wide and weighs 10.5 tons. The twin engines developed a thrust of 50,000 lbf and burned almost 5 gallons of fuel a second. That means it gets .04 mpg. I like it.
You may have heard the term afterburners before and not know exactly what they are or what they do. Essentially, afterburners massively increase thrust by injecting fuel into the turbine exhaust, so an afterburner is basically just like an exhaust pipe with some fuel injectors in it. The gases coming out of the turbine are hot enough to ignite the fuel.
Check out the ThrstSSC homepage
And videos of the actual record breaking run in 97: