Satellite imagery aids 1600kph land-speed record

By on 28 May, 2013


Satellite imagery provided by DMCii is helping to plan the attempt to break the land speed record by the Bloodhound Project, to be undertaken on the Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape of South Africa in WHEN.

During the rainy season (from October to March) the desert pan floods regularly, making it extremely flat and smooth and therefore an ideal surface to run Bloodhound’s supersonic car at speeds up to 1,600km/h. However, the track must be completely dry before use, as only then does the surface have the right load-bearing capacity to support the car and ensure a safe run.

The rainy season is unpredictable and the pan does not dry consistently across the whole area. Bloodhound Project sponser, DMCii, provided 22m multispectral imagery as an objective and accurate means of quantifying the flooding, understanding the drying-out process, and analysing the surface irregularities, highlighting the areas that require close monitoring before carrying out a test.

The latest image, taken on the 25th April, after heavy flooding in March, showed that the pan will take just weeks to dry out instead of the months previously thought. This information is vital to the team who are planning a wheel test on the pan as early as the beginning of May.

Andy Green, RAF fighter pilot and Bloodhound project driver said: “Having used satellite imagery to locate our test site, it was an obvious choice to use it to analyse the conditions on the Hakskeen pan. The 20 million sq m area of cleared track roughly equates to an A road from London to Moscow.  Once this huge remote area is flooded, it becomes inaccessible from the surface and regular monitoring is virtually impossible.”

“DMCii’s regular imagery has helped us understand more about the environment we are working with, identifying potentially problematic areas in the surface of the pan, which we can factor in to ensure all our runs are safe. Our own tests have shown that DMCii imagery gives an exact picture of the conditions on the ground, which will give me great confidence when I step into the driver’s seat of the world’s fastest car.”

Dave Hodgson, Managing Director of DMCii said: “We’re proud to be supporting such an exciting project, that not only sets out to break several world records, but is also helping to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers through their work with STEM.

We’re very excited for Andy and the Bloodhound team and wish them the best of luck with their supersonic car.”

You can learn more about the land-speed record attempt at

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