The Britons who built the first car to break the sound barrier are back with plans to shatter their own record in a jet-powered land-rocket they’re betting will be the first car to top 1,000 mph. Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green will make his run for the record strapped into the Bloodhound SSC, a 42-foot-long missile powered by a rocket bolted to a jet engine. With 45,000 pounds of thrust available at full throttle, Bloodhound will hit 1,050 mph in just 41 seconds and cross the salt faster than a speeding bullet. Downforce takes on a new meaning when you’re shooting for 1,000 mph-it’s estimated that Green will need 4.5 miles to achieve it (it’ll take about that far to bring it to a stop afterward). The air pressure bearing down on Bloodhound’s carbon fiber and titanium body at Mach 1.4 will exceed 12 tons per square meter, and its 35.8-inch rear wheels will be spinning at more than 10,000 RPM. They’ll be made of titanium to keep them from flying apart. At that speed, Green will be covering about 400 yards a second, or about 50 meters in the blink of an eye. “There has never been anything like Bloodhound SSC before,” says team leader Richard Noble, who set a land speed record of his own in 1983. “It is undoubtedly the most stimulating and challenging program I’ve ever been involved with. The next three years are going to be tough, testing and damned exciting.” The announcement comes 11 years after Noble and Green set the current land speed record of 763.035 mph in the Nevada Desert. Britain has held the land speed record for 58 of the 109 years since Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat of France reached a blistering 39 mph in a suburb of Paris. But more than bragging rights are at stake in the ambitious project announced today. Noble and Lord Drayson, Britain’s minister of state for science and innovation, hope the three-year project will inspire children to pursue careers in engineering, mathematics and science, so they might solve the world’s most pressing problems. The project will use YouTube videos, Twitter feeds and other social networking tools to keep kids – and others – around the world up-to-date on Bloodhound’s progress and encourage them to engage with the team.