October 2nd was a seriously unproductive day. High winds blowing from the South had turned the Black Rock Desert into a gigantic sand storm for the second day running.
The ThrustSSC team were poised to take the ThrustSSC car deeper into the transonic speed range - with targets of Mach 0.947 and Mach 0.961 for runs 55 and 56 - but the onset of the high winds made this impossible despite the last minute running of two replacement 13 mile white gypsum track lines in 2 hours.
The ThrustSSC project is now at an interesting stage: the highest Mach Number achieved is Mach 0.935 and the ThrustSSC Engineering Team are happy to proceed further up the scale in small steps to Mach 1. At Mach 0.935 the team had been led to expect aerodynamic buffeting from the unstable airflow-but so far this has not been encountered. Driver Andy Green reports that the car feels more stable with the higher mach numbers.
Against this progress is the fact that the fall is rapidly approaching and with the onset of the colder weather the number of viable run days is reducing - and these run days have to be shared with the Spirit of America Team. The ThrustSSC project is also coming to the end of its Black Rock funding though there has recently been considerable interest in refunding in the UK with a number of sponsorship approaches received. Despite these obvious pressures, the team will continue to operate in carefully defined steps, always aware that decisions made in haste can lead to serious accidents.
The huge daily television audience approaching 100 million is likely to be back when Sky return with their live satellite link - and despite the extended down period the Internet hits have not dropped below 750,000/day.
The weather forecast over the next 48 hours promises high pressure and fine running conditions. For tomorrow October 3rd, the coin toss for first run slot has been won by ThrustSSC and the team plan to roll-out at 0730am. Spirit of America is expected to run later in the day.
The Federation International Automobilistes has now agreed in principle to sanction the supersonic runs and from October 3rd the timekeepers will be reporting ThrustSSC ground speeds and provisional Mach Numbers.
Achievement of Mach 0.94 and Mach 0.96 tomorrow will put the ThrustSSC team in a strong position to progress to Mach 1 over the next week or so.
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