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Blue Flame

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The Blue Flame was the rocket-powered vehicle which achieved the world land speed record on Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on October 23, 1970. The Blue Flame's kilometer record of 1014.513 km/h (630.388 mph) lasted until 1997 - for 27 years - and was set as an average of the achieved speed in both directions ((629.412 + 631.367)/2= 630.388 mph). Since the kilometer record was faster than the mile record, set on the same two runs, it was the world land speed record. Thrust II, in 1983, broke The Blue Flame's mile record of 622.407 mph when it went 633 mph, but did not break the kilometer record by the required one percent (636.691 mph) to establish a new record for that distance. As a result, The Blue Flame's kilometer record was not broken until 1997 when the Thrust SSC jet car smashed it while exceeding the speed of sound (Mach 1). The driver, Gary Gabelich, was of Croatian ancestry and native of San Pedro, California.

The Blue Flame was constructed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Reaction Dynamics, a company formed by Pete Farnsworth, Ray Dausman and Dick Keller who had developed the first hydrogen peroxide rocket dragster. The Blue Flame used a combination of hydrogen peroxide and liquified natural gas (LNG), pressurized by helium gas to eclipse previous speed records set with jet engine powered vehicles. The effort was sponsored by The American Gas Association, with technical assistance from the Institute of Gas Technology of Des Plaines, IL.

The engine of the Blue Flame was designed by Reaction Dynamics,Inc. and some of the components were manufactured by Galaxy Manufacturing Co. of Tonawanda, New York. Galaxy Mfg. Co. was formed in 1966 by Donald J Magro and Gerald Muhs and was principally engaged in flow control systems, cavitating venturi, and precision machining fields.

The Blue Flame engine is a re-generatively cooled, liquid-propellent engine of the variable thrust type. It can operate on either a single or dual-propellant basis. In operation, the engine permits natural gas use as a liquid or gas or both with a two-stage combustion start. The oxidizer flow is established first, then LNG enters a heat exchanger where it vaporizes and is brought to combustion temperature. The gas is then injected into the combustion chamber with the oxygen provided by the hydrogen peroxide. A stable flame front is established and the remaining LNG is injected to bring the engine to full power. Nominal design engine running time was 20 seconds at full thrust of 22,000 pounds generating 58,000 equivalent horsepower. Due to testing damage, the actual thrust during the record runs was 11,000 pounds

The frame of the Blue Flame is a semi-monocoque type aluminum, with welded tubular structure in the nose section and with an aluminum "skin." The vehicle is 37 feet 4.6 inches (11.394 m) in length and 7 feet 8 inches (2.34 m) wide. It has a 306 1/2 inch wheelbase and an empty weight of 4,000 pounds. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. designed 8:00-25 tires for the vehicle, with an outside diameter of 34.8 inches (880 mm) and smooth tire tread surface to help prevent heat buildup.

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