THE world needs food, water and power – not a car that could reach 1600km/h. So why spend huge amounts of money to build a car like this?
This was the question asked – and answered – by the current fastest man on Earth, and the driver of the car that is expected to break the land speed record early next year.
Andy Green, a serving fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force (RAF), spent the past week recruiting young scientists and engineers at Scifest Africa in Grahamstown. And that, he said, was the answer to his question.
"Does the world need a 1000 mile per hour [1600km/h] car? No it doesn't. We do need engineers, though," he said.
"Those [food, water and power shortages] are all fixable problems, but we need experts to fix them, and those experts are all at school right now."
The world has a huge shortage of scientists and engineers (South Africa produces 45 engineers per million people annually, compared to 380 in the US, 225 in China and 95 in India) and that is what the Bloodhound project aims to change.
"If we can get kids into engineering, we are investing in our future."
To attract children to science, the Bloodhound Supersonic Car team is attempting to break Green's standing land speed record of 1149.30km/h – and produce a series of world firsts in the process.
One of these would be to stream the event live through YouTube at 1600km/h.
The project at the moment has around 20-million YouTube guests, and Green is hoping to win the hearts and minds of thousands more in South Africa.
"You will be able to watch it through the live tail or nose camera while running or downloading all the data live," he said.
To do this, technology needs to be jacked up in the Northern Cape, where they plan to run the car on the Haakskeenpan desert next year.
"We would need full mobile coverage throughout the desert to make the streaming happen and YouTube is building a channel especially for this, because if we run [the internet streaming] through South Africa we would crash the internet here."
Green, who was awarded the Order of the British Empire for breaking the sound barrier in the Thrust SSC in 1996 and refers to Formula 1 racing as "small slow cars that go around in circles", took a week's leave from his day-job at the RAF for his visit to South Africa.