Aussie Invader 5R - World Land Speed Record Challenger
The Tuners Group is absolutely honoured to have been invited to be part of the Aussie Invader World Land Speed Record project, led by Australian motorsport legend and Australian Land Speed Record holder, Rosco McGlashan OAM. Rosco holds the Australian land speed record at 500 mph (802 km/h).
In the world of fast racecars, there is "fast", there is "seriously fast", and then there is "the absolutely fastest" cars ever built. This car sits at the absolute top level of the latter category - it is the most powerful car ever built anywhere on the planet.
The performance envelope of the car is way beyond what is seen in traditional motorsport and draws more from the worlds of supersonic aviation and space exploration than traditional motorsport. It has wheels, but that is where the comparisons to ordinary racecars ends ...
The car is powered by a bi-propellant rocket motor - the same type of rocket used to launch satellites into space - producing around 62,000 lbs of thrust (about 200,000 horsepower). To put that into perspective, a 2015 Formula One car reportedly makes around 760 horsepower. So Aussie Invader 5R has roughly the power of 263 Formula One cars - all powering one vehicle.
The 62,000 pounds of thrust / approx 200,000 horsepower from its bi-propellant HTP (H2O2) rocket motor makes Aussie Invader 5R the most powerful land speed record car ever built, as well as the most powerful car of any kind ever built. The engine is being developed with existing technology, but also some pioneering catalyst pack development and Rosco and The Aussie Invader team are very excited to be working with several new and established rocket experts to bring this motor to life.
The car weighs 9.2 tonnes fully fuelled and will accelerate from zero to 1600 km/h (1000 mph) in just over 20 seconds, accelerating at a constant rate of 3G. In the 20 seconds it takes to get to top speed, it will burn 2.8 tonnes of propellant - a kerosene fuel and hydrogen peroxide oxidiser.
The Aussie Invader site reads "The work in building Aussie Invader 5R is now in full swing, with preliminary planning and design work having taken a decade before the build could start. The science and technology behind such a project is staggering and only now is some of that coming into the reach of people like us, a dedicated and committed small team, driven with a passion to achieve the seemingly impossible.
Rosco McGlashan OAM leads the team, and is also the driver of Aussie Invader 5R. Rosco has 45 years in the Land Speed Record environment, chasing records and becoming the Fastest Aussie on the planet, having driven Aussie Invader III to a one way pass of 638 mph (1,028 km/h) in 1996".
The Wheels - Engineering The Extreme
The car runs machined aluminium wheels which do not run tyres. Each wheel weighs 140 kg (308 lb). At full speed, the wheels will be rotating at almost 10,000 rpm, which exerts a massive force on the wheel rim of approximately 50,000 G which is trying to literally tear the wheel apart
Each wheel has been CNC machined on a very large CNC machining centre by VEEM from massive billets of 7050 aluminium (pictured above on a full size shipping pallet for scale) supplied by sponsor Calm Aluminium. VEEM are one of Western Australia's top engineering companies, known for their precision work in the defence, marine, transport, mining, oil and gas fields. Calm Aluminium are a Sydney based company established in 2002 to market products and services to the Aerospace, Defence and Toolmaking industries in Australia and New Zealand and also to act as a technical adviser of correct materials and alloys for the related markets.
Aerodynamics at Mach 1.4 and beyond
Unlike aerodynamics in traditional motorsport, Aussie Invader has to deal with a factor that not even Formula One cars deal with - a supersonic shock wave as it breaks the sound barrier, so a huge amount of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) works has been carried out, with Soto Group in NSW, Curtin University's Fluid Dynamics Research Group (FDRG) and iVec assisting the team with some of the major hotspot areas on Aussie Invader that need highly specialised design and CFD calculations.
Rosco McGlashan explains ... "One of the most important parts of Aussie Invader 5R is the design and construction of the nose cone. The nose cone sets up the airflow over the whole car, which is critical for the cars aerodynamic performance and stability.
When the car is running at subsonic speeds, a lot of what is going to happen to Aussie Invader's airflow can be predicted with some certainty as there is aerodynamic data available on cars running in this speed range.
It is a lot more difficult to predict the actual airflow around the vehicle when it is travelling in the transonic speed range. Aerodynamicists remind us that some parts of the car are receiving subsonic airflow and some are receiving supersonic airflow at the same time. This can result in turbulent airflow and general instability. Unfortunately, there is virtually no data available to any Land Speed Record teams on supersonic airflow close to the ground. Thrust SSC achieved mach 1.02, 763mph (1,223 km/h) but Thrust SSC only just made it through the sound barrier and the real fun starts when you exceed the speed of sound by a good margin.
Aircraft have travelled at supersonic speeds for over 60 years. However, the shock waves from an aircraft can dissipate in all directions, where as a car in contact with the ground is completely different and the shock waves reflected from the ground can potentially cause a lot of unwanted lift and drag issues.
Beyond the speed of sound, air acts more like water i.e. the air reacts as though it is very dense. Aussie Invader 5R's nose will need to slice through the air and divert as much air to either side of the car as possible. In one sense, the nose cone must perform like the bow of a high speed boat and, as you can appreciate, a powerful boat with a poor bow design will not cut through the water and reach its potential. A good nose cone will reduce air travelling under the car. However, at supersonic speeds, there will still be a large volume of high speed air which will induce shock waves which can be reflected back from the ground onto Aussie Invader. These potentially dangerous reflected shock waves will hopefully be minimised with our 'V' shaped underbelly design, by dissipating them to the surrounding air to the left and right of the car."
While an incredible number of hours of work have gone into the nosecone design, there is someone who has an altogether different appreciation of the attention to detail put into the nosecone design ... Wilson the workshop cat has discovered that the tip of the nosecone makes a perfectly designed and precision engineered backscratcher, thoughtfully placed at exactly the right height for a cat.
Stopping the "missile"
Once the car reaches full speed, it will tear through the timed mile in less than 4 seconds.
Then the extremely technical task of bringing this "missile" to a stop safely begins ...
If the engine was simply shut off at top speed, the air is so "thick" and the drag so extreme at these speeds that Rosco would be thrown forward in the safety harness belts with such heavy negative G's that he would black out. So the car has to be slowed down in stages ... first by shutting down the rocket in multiple stages, then with air brakes, then parachutes, and finally brakes for the last part of the deceleration process.
Shown above is part of the airbrake assembly during machining by Kentin Engineering.
The hand controls for the braking systems and firing the rocket have been developed in Australia and are proudly manufactured in Australia. In a critical application like stopping a car this fast, and controlling the rocket, the controls must work first time, every time - a huge responsibility, which requires absolute attention to detail and high precision engineering.
Rosco McGlashan's comments about why The Tuners Group are involved in the project.
When asked why The Tuners Group was chosen to be part of the Aussie Invader 5R project, Rosco McGlashan says ...
Having been a serious competitor in motor racing all of my life including speedway, dragracing jet dragsters, a V8 powered motorcycle, a rocket powered motorcycle and previously having built and raced two Mirage jet fighter engine powered land speed record cars (which reached speeds of over 1026 km/h), I have come to recognise the parts and people that I trust my life and safety with.
The Tuners Group are such a company - a group of professionals including first class engineers, world class aerodynamic gurus and a truly knowlegable team who understand what we are looking for, understand the absolute attention to detail required in both engineering and safety on a land speed record car, are courteous, helpful and most importantly, they come up with the goods.
So in building our rocket powered Land Speed Record car to reach 1000 mph, guess who we trust to build and supply the impossible to source components needed to get us to the startline ? The Tuners Group.
A huge thing for our all Aussie project is to use all Aussie parts... The Tuners Group answer our specialist parts prayers !
On a project this extreme, there are many unusual engineering challenges, like "how do you select a brake disk when there is no carbon brake disk on the planet that can survive being spun up to the 10,000 RPM the wheels will be spinning at ?"
These are exactly the kinds of engineering challenges we relish, and a car so far beyond the normal performance envelope seen in traditional motorsport produces engineering challenges in abundance that are never encountered in traditional motorsport.
Once the car is brought to a stop, the job is only halfway done though. Land speed record cars must complete a run in both directions through the timed mile (the speed in both directions is combined and averaged for world record purposes), and the return run must be completed within one hour. So once the first run is complete, the car has to be turned around, towed back to the staging point and readied for the return run - re-fuel, re-oxidise, recharge the nitrogen tanks, repack the parachutes, and do a total check over before doing it all again within one hour.
At 1600 km/h, everything happens fast, so with both a large number of sensors and a very high frequency / logging rate required, the datalogging hardware needs to be able to keep up with this huge flow of data, and a dedicated high speed datalogging system needed to be put together for the car.
The Tuners Group has also been involved in the preliminary planning of the datalogging systems on the car - a very interesting challenge where huge numbers of sensors will be feeding the datalogging hardware with huge amounts of data every millisecond.
It has now been announced that the supplier of the datalogging equipment is the German company Siemens. Siemens has been creating and applying innovative technology solutions for over 140 years. With a research and development budget of $6 billion, Siemens offer access to the world's best technology, and it is fantastic to have them on board with Aussie Invader 5R.
Siemens will be supplying display panels and data logging hardware needed to monitor the car's performance and vitals, including wheel speeds, wheel bearing temperatures, front and rear axle loadings, yaw, pitch, GPS data, propellant and fuel tank levels and temps, nitrogen storage volumes and even the driver's heart rate. Rosco said "I am sure my heart rate will be off the scale".
A highly experienced and accomplished team, with innovative Australian engineering businesses behind the scenes
As Rosco McGlashan said recently in an interview with Channel 9 News ...
"I quit school at 12 to set the Land Speed Record, and I've probably done the longest apprenticeship in world history, It's just something I've got to do. It's not about dollars or ego, it's just something that we want to do for Australia ... and we're giving it our best shot."
Channel 9 News' reporter Alicia Muling said "There's nothing cheap about attempting a record of this nature - by the time this vehicle tries, it will be worth about $4 million, but this is a car that has been built by the community ..."
Rosco added "We're building the car without any money, so that makes it just a little bit more of a challenge. As the car sits there, it's worth $1.5 million now, and that's with product that's been donated by Australian companies to make this thing happen. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and no one is - there are only a couple of teams in the world doing it, and the Brits and us are the two main contenders"
As reported by Channel 9 news, the rival English team with their car Bloodhound SSC have a much bigger setup than the Australian team, and the English have the edge when it comes to funding and sponsorship - the UK Government is using the English project as a showcase of UK engineering.
But anyone who knows Rosco knows that in the same tradition as Australia II followed to win the America's Cup, he is not one to be intimidated by a larger team with a bigger budget, nor a rival team with the backing of a government determined to see the record held by an English team. The rivalry between the Australians and the poms (what Australians call English people) is legendary.
Rosco told Channel 9 News ...
"The worst thing about the poms is, they think the Land Speed Record belongs to them, and we're about to change that ... We're going to get there first, mate. We'll be looking forward to the end of the day ... (when) we've gone 1000 mph and they're all sitting down the end of the lake crying hahaha".
The video above is a segment put together by ABC TV's Catalyst science show, about the Aussie Invader project
The video above is an interview Rosco did with Channel 9 News Perth about the project.
The video above is a segment put together by RiAus. RiAus is a national scientific non-profit organisation with a mission of "Bringing science to people and people to science"
More info and how to get your photo on the car as it performs it's record breaking attempt
For as little as $20, you can be part of land speed record history by uploading your selfie which will be on the car. The first person to get their selfie on the car is Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber.
Click here to learn about the Supersonic Selfie program ...
More technical info about the car is at the Aussie Invader website at ...http://www.aussieinvader.com