UK Science Minister David Willetts has opened a new technical centre for the assembly of the Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC), which is being developed with the aim of attaining a 1,000 mph world land speed record.
The team working on Bloodhound includes many of the same people who worked on the Thrust SSC, which broke the world land speed record of 763 mph in 1997, including project director Richard Noble and driver Andy Green.
Bloodhound has three power plants, a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet from a Eurofighter Typhoon, a custom designed hybrid rocket, and a 750 bhp Cosworth F1 engine that drives the rocket oxidiser pump. Between them they generate 135,000 equivalent horsepower, equal to 180 Formula 1 cars.
During his visit, Willetts helped Bloodhound's engineers join the carbon composite front section to the metal rear chassis, which will house the car's custom-designed rocket - a major milestone for Bloodhound SSC.
"Bloodhound is British science and engineering at its visionary best. The project's success will not only be measured in miles per hour, but also in how it inspires future generations," he said.
In recognition of the open source project's success in inspiring children to study STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Willetts also announced a £1 million grant for Bloodhound, to support its education and outreach programme.
Around 5,340 UK schools, including primaries, secondaries and special educational needs colleges are already using Bloodhound materials in class. An independent evaluation by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that the programme has helped make engineering more accessible and relevant to young people's lives.
The funding, which comes from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is intended to help the project's education team and 500 ambassadors extend this work.
EPSRC has previously invested £1.74 million in Bloodhound, to enable computational modelling of the aerodynamics research and stimulate engagement and use of the data and information from the project by the UK education community.
"It is significant that EPSRC was one of our original sponsors, for they recognised in the early days that this was an education project with a difference," said Bloodhound project director Richard Noble OBE.
"This grant is an endorsement of all the work done by our team and ambassadors since then, and it will help us work with more schools and inspire even more children as the car rolls out and we share the images and data from record breaking runs with them."
BBC News reports that the Bloodhound project is now running about a year behind schedule. The vehicle is expected to roll out in 2015, with the aim of breaking the current land speed record in the latter half of that year.
Noble told the BBC that the delay was mainly due to "the sheer scale of this thing," while Green said the new timescale was simply more realistic.