Black Rock Desert September 23rd 1997. Battle for Mach 1 on Land: Today, ThrustSSC stunned the watching media, sponsors and visiting enthusiasts when it made the fastest officially recorded and sanctioned run in history. The Engineering Team...
Black Rock Desert September 23rd 1997.
Battle for Mach 1 on Land:
Today, ThrustSSC stunned the watching media, sponsors and visiting enthusiasts when it made the fastest officially recorded and sanctioned run in history. The Engineering Team issued two identical run profiles of Mach 0.9 as the next step on their way towards Mach 1 - runs that would cement a new land speed record if made within one hour.
The car with driver Andy Green aboard was positioned in the start position on the South end of the 13 mile track after being rolled out of its Airshelta inflatable hangar at just after 11:30. The start procedure ran faultlessly and those watching and recording the event saw a plume of dust in the distance at 12:03 that announced ThrustSSC's imminent arrival. Streaking through the kilo and mile timers set up by USAC officials, Andy hit speeds of 696.863 for the kilo and 693.507 for the mile. The speed of 688.070 for the timing trap that also covers the 2000ft difference between the mile and kilo traps, indicated that Andy was still accelerating as he came out of the measured mile. All that was now needed was a good return run within one hour to claim a record.
The "Comp 1 failure" (computer number one) message from Jayne Millington in the Pit Station just before she called the car stopped and safe gave the first indication that this was not to be. Jerry Bliss and Robert Atkinson continued their fault-finding activities on the two on-board TMS320 computers out in the searing midday heat while the turnaround crew made the car ready for a return run. They now believe that they have finally isolated the problems to a number of worn connectors, but the time taken to do this meant that the car was ready outside the one hour window.
Continuing the theme of treating each and every run as a development run, with breaking the record as a secondary objective, Andy headed North to South at 14:24 travelling much faster than he or anybody else has ever done before. The run was smooth and safe until the end of the mile when both parachutes failed to deploy. Since the Black Rock Desert was chosen because of it vast length and sound surface, Andy braked hard initially to reduce speed and then released the brakes and cruised to a halt one and a half miles beyond the planned recovery point when the brake temperature warning light came on. The six huge Dunlop carbon discs did their job superbly with temperatures well within their design limits.
The speeds were 721.358 for the kilo and 719.137 for the mile - the fastest officially recorded speeds ever, and a major increase from the first run. With speeds now getting to within 30 miles an hour of Mach 1, the decision was taken to stand down for tomorrow, to thoroughly investigate the parachute deployment failure and confirm the fix for the on-board computers.
With the Sound Barrier so close, press and TV have been arriving by road, helicopter and plane, with many major networks broadcasting direct from their satellite trucks. Internet accesses for the day were 800k, with a total for the week in excess of 3.1mi llion, so we are well on target for hitting a million a day as events continue to unfold.
News is still awaited from the Spirit of America Team about when they will be running again, but it is known that they are still hard at work on their fuel system.
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