MTN in a sponsorship deal to create rocket-propelled supercar

South Africa-based telephone network operator MTN in partnership with Bloodhound SSC (supersonic car), a UK-based project that bills itself as an “engineering adventure,” are in a project that seeks to create a supersonic car to break the land-speed record.

The project will see the vehicle piloted at more than 1600 kilometres per hour, and the companies hope to use the project to encourage school pupils in SA and the UK to study science, engineering and mathematics. Schools are already being encouraged to follow the project online and Noble says there are 160 schools in SA tracking the project already.

It would be great to just point them to the Internet like we do in the UK, but that’s not always possible in SA, so we’re looking at providing information in different formats,” said Dave Rowley, education programme director for Bloodhound SSC.

The vehicle propulsion will be provided by a jet engine and a rocket, offering combined horsepower of around 135000 horsepower. It will travel at 1.4 times the speed of sound. It will be 12,8 metres long and produce 25 times the noise level of a jumbo jet taking off.

The run is scheduled to take place in 2014 at the Haksteen Pan between Upington and the Namibian border in the Northern Cape, and MTN has promised to upgrade its towers in the region with fibre backhaul so that it can offer LTE — long-term evolution, or next-generation mobile broadband.

“Although it is unlikely an LTE connection to the vehicle will be sustainable at 1 600 kilometres per hour, MTN is interested in finding out at what speed the vehicle starts losing signal,” Lambo Kanagaratnam, chief technology officer at MTN SA said.

The track will be 19 kilometres long and 500 metres wide. Clearing of debris has already begun, carried out by 370 people from the local community.

The project has already taken R75 million to date, and a full-scale model will tour the UK and SA in December 2012.

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