The company behind Project Bloodhound, a UK-based initiative to break 1,000 miles per hour in a rocket-powered car, is in dire straits. The Bloodhound Supersonic Car is all but built, and it reached speeds of over 200 mph in a test last year. But the company says it needs to raise £25 million (just shy of $33 million) or it will go broke.
Bloodhound Programme Ltd announced on Monday that it has entered into administration, which, like bankruptcy, is a process where control of the company gets passed to an “administrator” whose goal is to repay creditors as quickly as possible. The business advisory firm that was hired (FRP Advisory LLP) says it has started talking to potential investors, according to the BBC. Until now, the project was funded mostly through sponsorships and individual donors.
Described by the company as a combination of a fast jet, an F1 racer, and a spaceship, the Bloodhound car is a sight to behold. The dragster-style car measures 13.5 meters (44 feet) in length and weighs 7.5 tons. Its ultimate 135,000-brake horsepower will be generated by two sources of power: a Rolls-Royce Eurofighter jet engine and a cluster of rockets from Norwegian aerospace company Nammo. The rockets haven’t been integrated yet, but when they are, the car should become capable of hitting 1,000 mph in under one minute, at a pace of about one mile every 3.6 seconds.
Bloodhound first unveiled the car in 2015 and completed a public test in 2017 where it reached speeds of 210 mph on back-to-back runs at the Newquay Airport in southwest England. Eventually, the goal is to not only break the land speed record of 763 mph, but to set a new world record of 1,000 mph. The pilot is Andy Green, who set the current land speed record in 1997 with a similar jet-powered car. The Bloodhound project is also directed by Richard Noble, one of the leaders of the 1997 record-setting attempt.
The Bloodhound team originally wanted to make the 1,000 mph attempt in 2020. The track in South Africa is ready for the car, too. Built by the Northern Cape Provincial Government, the 1,500-meter-wide track stretches 18 kilometers (just over 11 miles) across a section of the Kalahari Desert known as the Hakskeen Pan. According to Mark Chapman, the team’s chief engineer, that timeline could still work if a new source of money is found.
“Once we have the funding in place, or at least visibility of that funding, and the team is back in the building, then 10 months later, we’re out in South Africa,” Chapman told the BBC. “We’re that close.”