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1000mph land speed attempt relies on DMCii ‘eye in the sky’

Satellite imagery provided by DMCii is helping to plan the attempt to break the land speed record by the BLOODHOUND Project.

BLOODHOUND product sponsor DMCii has provided regular imagery to monitor test track conditions on the Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape of South Africa. During the rainy season (from October to March) the desert pan floods regularly, making it extremely flat and smooth and therefore an ideal surface to run BLOODHOUND’s supersonic car at speeds up to 1,050 mph. However, the track must be completely dry before use, as only then does the surface have the right load-bearing capacity to support the car and ensure a safe run.

UK-DMC2 image of the Hakskeen Pan, South Africa, captured on the 25th April 2013 © DMCii

The rainy season is unpredictable and the pan does not dry consistently across the whole area. DMCii’s 22m multispectral imagery provided an objective and highly accurate means of quantifying the flooding, understanding the drying out process and analysing the surface irregularities, highlighting the areas that require close monitoring before carrying out a test.

The latest image, taken on the 25th April, after heavy flooding in March, showed that the pan will take just weeks to dry out instead of the months previously thought. This information is vital to the team who are planning a wheel test on the pan as early as the beginning of May.

Andy Green, RAF fighter pilot and BLOODHOUND project driver said: “Having used satellite imagery to locate our test site, it was an obvious choice to use it to analyse the conditions on the Hakskeen pan. The 20 million m² area of cleared track roughly equates to an A road from London to Moscow. Once this huge remote area is flooded, it becomes inaccessible from the surface and regular monitoring is virtually impossible.”

“DMCii’s regular imagery has helped us understand more about the environment we are working with, identifying potentially problematic areas in the surface of the pan which we can factor in to ensure all our runs are safe. Our own tests have shown that DMCii imagery gives an exact picture of the conditions on the ground, which will give me great confidence when I step into the driver’s seat of the world’s fastest car.”

Dave Hodgson, Managing Director of DMCii said: “We’re proud to be supporting such an exciting project, that not only sets out to break several world records, but is also helping to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers through their work with STEM. We’re very excited for Andy and the BLOODHOUND team and wish them the best of luck with their supersonic car.”
“Our 22m wide-area imagery has been perfectly suited to help them analyse their test track and it has been particularly effective at showing how the water is lying when the pan is flooded, allowing the detection of potentially problematic surface topographical issues.”

About DMC International Imaging Ltd

  • DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii) is a UK-based supplier of remote sensing data products and services for international Earth Observation (EO) markets. DMCii supplies programmed and archived optical satellite imagery provided by the multi-satellite Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC). DMCii’s data is primarily used in a wide variety of commercial and government applications including agriculture, forestry and environmental mapping, which benefit from reliable high temporal resolution optical imagery.
  • In partnership with the UK Space Agency and the other DMC member nations (Algeria, China, Nigeria, Turkey and Spain), DMCii works with the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ to provide free satellite imagery for humanitarian use in the event of major international disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes, fires and flooding.
  • DMCii was formed in October 2004 and is a subsidiary of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), the world leader in small satellite technology. SSTL designed and built the DMC with the support of the UK Space Agency and in conjunction with the other DMC Consortium member nations listed above.
  • DMC International Imaging Ltd is not affiliated in any way with Intergraph Corp., Z/I Imaging Corp., or their registered trademark DMC.


  • The world land speed record of 763 mph is held by Thrust SSC, a UK team lead by BLOODHOUND’s Project Director Richard Noble and driven by Andy Green.
  • Components for BLOODHOUND SSC are being manufactured by specialists across the UK and delivered to the BLOODHOUND Technical Centre in Bristol for assembly throughout 2013.
  • The BLOODHOUND team scoured the globe to find the perfect desert to run the car on, it needed to be at least 12 miles long, two miles wide and perfectly flat. The Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, South Africa was selected.
  • At full speed BLOODHOUND SSC will cover a mile in 3.6 seconds, that’s 4.5 football pitches laid end to end per second.
  • BLOODHOUND has three power plants, a Rolls Royce EJ200 jet from a Eurofighter Typhoon, a custom designed hybrid rocket and a 750 bhp Cosworth F1 engine that drives the rocket oxidiser pump. Between them they generate 135,000 equivalent hp, equal to 180 F1 cars.