Inside the alien spaceship cockpit of the first 1,000-mph car

Andy Green will enter his carbon-fiber office via a hatch barely large enough to fit a soccer ball. At full lick, he’ll be covering a mile every 3.6 seconds, powered by a jet engine and rocket making the equivalent of 135,000 thrust hp – or 180 Formula One cars. His speedometer will read up to 1,100 mph, the noise within the cockpit will be like a constant gunshot, and temperatures will exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

But this is no supersonic airplane. This is the Bloodhound SSC land racing car, a machine Green hopes will take him over 1,000 mph when he attempts to break his own record in the South African desert in 2016.

Bloodhound SSC has slowly been releasing information on its racer as the development process continues. Just last month, it told us how it planned to stop the car after its record run, and now we’re given an inside look at the car’s cockpit and controls.

Decked in white colored walls to maximize light, the cockpit features a mound of switches and screens to provide all the information Green needs during his attempts. As Green explains in the video, some of that information is only relevant if something goes wrong, in which case he has a multitude of failsafe options; he can manually cut the engine if he encounters an electronic failure as well as pull two mechanical levers to release the parachutes.

His bespoke titanium steering wheel, like his molded carbon-fiber seat, is built to Green’s exact specification, and the buttons on the wheel operate the chutes, airbrake and also the rocket. A large GPS-based speedometer sits at eye level, showing not only how fast he’s traveling but when he needs to deploy the rocket – and perhaps more importantly, when to use the various braking mechanisms: “The speeds for each of those is absolutely critical,” Green says. “Too fast for the parachutes, they will tear off. Too slow for the parachutes, and we’re going off the end of the desert. And going cross country at 300 or 400 mph in this car is not a good idea.”

Protecting Green’s head is a windscreen formed from acrylic. It’s thicker than a fighter jet’s windshield and can withstand an impact from a 2.2 lb. bird at 1,000 mph. With the inherent curvature of the screen, the challenge for engineers was to ensure its strength while preserving clarity. As an additional level of safety, the 441 lb. carbon-fiber monocoque carries ballistic armor to protect itself against errant stones.

The structure of the roof is designed to create shockwaves to slow the airflow down from 1,000 mph to 600 mph by the time it reaches the Eurojet EJ220 engine's opening. By not doing so, the immense pressure could damage the engine, but it may also “surge” or “choke” the motor once supersonic air speeds are reached.

The challenges of attempting a land speed record is nothing new to Green; he set the current record back in 1997. However this time around he hopes to be traveling around 240 mph faster than he did back then, making the cockpit's environment that much more extreme.

One nice thought may be that once he crests supersonic speeds, the car will be outrunning its own deafening noise, meaning Green might experience a brief moment of relative serenity. But it won’t last long, because when deceleration begins, he will need to withstand forces of around 3g until the car comes to a complete stop. Needless to say, Green has been working on his neck muscles.