John Weekes

John Weekes is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Potential land speed record-breakers hit a road bump

The colossal speeds Jetblack would reach present major physical and safety challenges. Photo / Industrial Research Limited
The colossal speeds Jetblack would reach present major physical and safety challenges. Photo / Industrial Research Limited

The brains behind Kiwi machine Jetblack have started a series of complex simulations as they aim to break the 1228km/h land speed record set more than a decade ago in Nevada.

The colossal speeds Jetblack would reach present major physical and safety challenges.

"Modern software allows [us] to simulate the entire vehicle and all its systems from top to bottom throughout the design process. This allows us to understand how the vehicle will behave and answer 'what-if' questions that would be far too risky to simulate in reality," project director Richard Nowland, a Wellington property developer, said.

Another challenge is finding a stage to set Jetblack loose. The ideal spot would be a vast, flat surface of hardened dirt left behind by an evaporated freshwater lake.

Very few places fit that bill, Otago University lake expert Mark Schallenberg said. "Australia is the logical place to look I'd say."

Jetblack's power will come from two Californian-built hybrid rockets, similar to those used in spacecraft.

- Herald on Sunday

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