Black Arrow
Overview
 
Black Arrow, officially capitalised BLACK ARROW, was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 carrier rocket. Developed during the 1960s, it was used for four launches between 1969 and 1971. Its final flight was the first successful orbital launch to be conducted by the United Kingdom, and placed the Prospero
Prospero X-3
-External links:* from "Woomera on the Web"* from Encyclopedia Astronautica* in the Global Frequency Database...

 satellite into low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

.

Black Arrow originated from studies by the Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

 for carrier rockets based on the Black Knight
Black Knight (rocket)
Black Knight was a British launch vehicle to test and verify the design of a re-entry vehicle for the Blue Streak missile.The United Kingdom's first indigenous rocketry project, Black Knight was manufactured by Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight, had its engines tested at The Needles and was...

 rocket, with the project being authorised in 1964.
Encyclopedia
Black Arrow, officially capitalised BLACK ARROW, was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 carrier rocket. Developed during the 1960s, it was used for four launches between 1969 and 1971. Its final flight was the first successful orbital launch to be conducted by the United Kingdom, and placed the Prospero
Prospero X-3
-External links:* from "Woomera on the Web"* from Encyclopedia Astronautica* in the Global Frequency Database...

 satellite into low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

.

Black Arrow originated from studies by the Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

 for carrier rockets based on the Black Knight
Black Knight (rocket)
Black Knight was a British launch vehicle to test and verify the design of a re-entry vehicle for the Blue Streak missile.The United Kingdom's first indigenous rocketry project, Black Knight was manufactured by Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight, had its engines tested at The Needles and was...

 rocket, with the project being authorised in 1964. It was initially developed by Saunders-Roe
Saunders-Roe
Saunders-Roe Limited was a British aero- and marine-engineering company based at Columbine Works East Cowes, Isle of Wight.-History:The name was adopted in 1929 after Alliot Verdon Roe and John Lord took a controlling interest in the boat-builders S.E. Saunders...

, and later Westland Aircraft
Westland Aircraft
Westland Aircraft was a British aircraft manufacturer located in Yeovil in Somerset. Formed as a separate company by separation from Petters Ltd just before the start of the Second World War, Westland had been building aircraft since 1915...

 as the result of a merger.

Black Arrow was a three-stage rocket, fuelled by RP-1
RP-1
RP-1 is a highly refined form of kerosene outwardly similar to jet fuel, used as a rocket fuel. Although having a lower specific impulse than liquid hydrogen , RP-1 is cheaper, can be stored at room temperature, is far less of an explosive hazard and is far denser...

 paraffin
Kerosene
Kerosene, sometimes spelled kerosine in scientific and industrial usage, also known as paraffin or paraffin oil in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Ireland and South Africa, is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid. The name is derived from Greek keros...

 and high test peroxide
High test peroxide
High-test peroxide or HTP is a high -concentration solution of hydrogen peroxide, with the remainder predominantly made up of water. In contact with a catalyst, it decomposes into a high-temperature mixture of steam and oxygen, with no remaining liquid water...

, a concentrated
Concentration
In chemistry, concentration is defined as the abundance of a constituent divided by the total volume of a mixture. Four types can be distinguished: mass concentration, molar concentration, number concentration, and volume concentration...

 form of hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

. It was retired after only four launches in favour of using American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Scout rockets, which the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 calculated to be cheaper than maintaining the Black Arrow programme.

Development

Black Arrow originated from a Royal Aircraft Establishment proposal for a rocket capable of placing a 144 kilograms (317.5 lb) payload into low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

, in order to test systems designed for larger spacecraft. In the autumn of 1964, the programme was authorised by Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 Aviation Minister
Ministry of Aviation
Ministry of Aviation was a department of the United Kingdom government, established in 1959. Its responsibilities included the regulation of civil aviation and the supply of military aircraft, which it took on from the Ministry of Supply....

 Julian Amery
Julian Amery, Baron Amery of Lustleigh
Harold Julian Amery, Baron Amery of Lustleigh, PC was a British politician of the Conservative Party, who served as a Member of Parliament for 39 of the 42 years between 1950 and 1992. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1960. He was created a life peer upon his retirement from the House of...

; however, following a general election
United Kingdom general election, 1964
The United Kingdom general election of 1964 was held on 15 October 1964, more than five years after the preceding election, and thirteen years after the Conservative Party had retaken power...

 in October, the incoming Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 government put the project on hold to reduce expenditure.

Following another election
United Kingdom general election, 1966
The 1966 United Kingdom general election on 31 March 1966 was called by sitting Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Wilson's decision to call an election turned on the fact that his government, elected a mere 17 months previously in 1964 had an unworkably small majority of only 4 MPs...

, the government approved the continuation of the programme with several modifications, including the reduction of the test programme from five to three launches. The first launch was set for 1968.

Most of the technology and systems used on Black Arrow had already been developed or flight-proven on the Black Knight rocket, or the Blue Steel missile
Blue Steel missile
The Avro Blue Steel was a British air-launched, rocket-propelled nuclear stand-off missile, built to arm the V bomber force. It was the primary British nuclear deterrent weapon until the Royal Navy started operating Polaris missile armed nuclear submarines....

. Black Arrow was designed to reuse as much technology from the earlier programmes as possible in order to reduce costs, and simplify the development process. Many senior staff of the Black Knight programme transferred directly to Black Arrow, including the Chief Missile Scientist, Roy Dommett
Roy Dommett
Roy Dommett CBE is a retired engineer and rocket scientist, and formerly the United Kingdom's Chief Missile Scientist, who for many years led the United Kingdom's research and development of both nuclear rockets and space rockets for the delivery of satellites to orbit...

, the Chief Design Engineer, Ray Wheeler and the Deputy Chief Engineer, John Underwood.

Initial development was conducted by Saunders-Roe, which merged into Westland Aircraft in 1964. Westland was subsequently the prime contractor for the Black Arrow, and assembled the first and second stages at East Cowes
Cowes
Cowes is an English seaport town and civil parish on the Isle of Wight. Cowes is located on the west bank of the estuary of the River Medina facing the smaller town of East Cowes on the east Bank...

 on the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

. Bristol Siddeley
Bristol Siddeley
Bristol Siddeley Engines Ltd was a British aero engine manufacturer. The company was formed in 1959 by a merger of Bristol Aero-Engines Limited and Armstrong Siddeley Motors Limited. In 1961 the company was expanded by the purchase of the de Havilland Engine Company and the engine division of...

 produced the first and second stage engines at a factory in Ansty
Ansty, Warwickshire
Ansty is a village and civil parish just outside the outskirts of Coventry, about northeast of the city centre. Ansty was part of the County of the City of Coventry until that county was dissolved in 1842....

, Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

. The engines were test fired at the factory before being shipped to the Isle of Wight, where they were integrated into the rocket and the first stage engines were fired again at High Down
High Down (Isle of Wight)
High Down is an area of Chalk Downland, making up the western extent of the ridge that crosses the Isle of Wight, England, and overlooking The Needles rock stacks. It includes Tennyson Down....

. Bristol Aerojet
Bristol Aerojet
Bristol Aerojet was a joint venture between the Bristol Aeroplane Company of the United Kingdom and Aerojet General of the US began in 1959.Bristol converted one of its wartime shadow factories into a rocket manufacturing plant in 1956....

 produced the third stage in Somerset
Somerset
The ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of Somerset in South West England borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west. It is partly bounded to the north and west by the Bristol Channel and the estuary of the...

, while the Explosives Research and Development Establishment produced its solid propellent in Waltham Abbey
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Waltham Abbey is a market town of about 20,400 people in the south west of the county of Essex, in the East of England region. It is about 24 km north of London on the Greenwich Meridian and lies between the River Lea in the west and Epping Forest in the east. It takes its name from The Abbey...

, Essex
Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

. The Rocket Propulsion Establishment
Rocket Propulsion Establishment
The Rocket Propulsion Establishment at Westcott, Buckinghamshire on the site of the former RAF Westcott has made a number of notable contributions in the field of rocket propulsion, including input on the rocket design for the Blue Streak missile and the propulsion systems on Chevaline...

, based in Westcott
Westcott, Buckinghamshire
Westcott is a village and also a civil parish within Aylesbury Vale district in Buckinghamshire, England. It is located about a mile west of Waddesdon.The village name is Anglo Saxon in origin, and means 'west cottage'....

, Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury, the largest town in the ceremonial county is Milton Keynes and largest town in the non-metropolitan county is High Wycombe....

, was responsible for the design and integration of the stage.

The name Black Arrow came from the Ministry of Supply
Ministry of Supply
The Ministry of Supply was a department of the UK Government formed in 1939 to co-ordinate the supply of equipment to all three British armed forces, headed by the Minister of Supply. There was, however, a separate ministry responsible for aircraft production and the Admiralty retained...

 policy of assigning designations consisting of a colour and a noun, unofficially known as Rainbow Codes, to research programmes conducted by the Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

.

Vehicle

The first and second stages of the Black Arrow were fuelled by RP-1 paraffin, burnt using high test peroxide as an oxidiser
Oxidizing agent
An oxidizing agent can be defined as a substance that removes electrons from another reactant in a redox chemical reaction...

. Due to the optimum mixture ratio being about 7 a larger oxidiser tank was required compared to many contemporary launch systems. The oxidiser tanks were located below the fuel tanks, following the practice of putting the more dense propellent at bottom in order to lower the centre of gravity
Center of mass
In physics, the center of mass or barycenter of a system is the average location of all of its mass. In the case of a rigid body, the position of the center of mass is fixed in relation to the body...

 and make the rocket easier to control. This arrangement had been pioneered by Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, whereas the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 had placed oxidiser tanks above fuel tanks, making it easier for the lower tank to be filled first.

Thrust vectoring
Thrust vectoring
Thrust vectoring, also thrust vector control or TVC, is the ability of an aircraft, rocket or other vehicle to manipulate the direction of the thrust from its engine or motor in order to control the attitude or angular velocity of the vehicle....

 was used to provide attitude control on the first two stages. The eight first stage combustion chamber
Combustion chamber
A combustion chamber is the part of an engine in which fuel is burned.-Internal combustion engine:The hot gases produced by the combustion occupy a far greater volume than the original fuel, thus creating an increase in pressure within the limited volume of the chamber...

s were arranged in pairs which could gimbal
Gimbal
A gimbal is a pivoted support that allows the rotation of an object about a single axis. A set of two gimbals, one mounted on the other with pivot axes orthogonal, may be used to allow an object mounted on the innermost gimbal to remain immobile regardless of the motion of its support...

 either way along one axis. Two of the pairs were arranged perpendicular to the other two, and when all four pairs were used together, they provided roll, pitch and yaw
Flight dynamics
Flight dynamics is the science of air vehicle orientation and control in three dimensions. The three critical flight dynamics parameters are the angles of rotation in three dimensions about the vehicle's center of mass, known as pitch, roll and yaw .Aerospace engineers develop control systems for...

 control. The second stage had two combustion chambers, which could gimbal along two axes, providing the same level of control. During a coast phase after second stage cut-off, the rocket was controlled by a reaction control system
Reaction control system
A reaction control system is a subsystem of a spacecraft whose purpose is attitude control and steering by the use of thrusters. An RCS system is capable of providing small amounts of thrust in any desired direction or combination of directions. An RCS is also capable of providing torque to allow...

. The third stage did not have an attitude control system, and was instead spin-stabilised
Spin-stabilisation
Spin-stabilisation is the method of stabilizing a satellite or launch vehicle by means of spin. For most satellite applications this approach has been superseded by three-axis stabilisation. It is also used in non-satellite applications such as rifle and artillery.Despinning can be achieved by...

.

The first stage was powered by a single Gamma 8
Bristol Siddeley Gamma
The Armstrong Siddeley, later Bristol Siddeley Gamma was a family of rocket engines used in British rocketry, including the Black Knight and Black Arrow launch vehicles. They burned kerosene fuel and hydrogen peroxide...

 engine, which burned for 127 seconds. The Gamma 8 was an eight-chamber engine, derived from the Gamma 301 engine used on the Black Knight. It was 6.9 metres (22.6 ft) long, and had a diameter of 2 metres (6.6 ft), the same diameter as the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Coralie. Coralie was used as the second stage of the Europa rocket, and the decision to give Black Arrow the same diameter as Coralie was taken in order to make it compatible with Blue Streak, which was used as the first stage of Europa. This would have allowed Black Arrow's payload capacity to have been increased, and would also have allowed Britain to use the first stage of Black Arrow as a backup to the Coralie. For this reason, all dimensions in the original specification were given in imperial units except the first stage diameter, which was given in metre
Metre
The metre , symbol m, is the base unit of length in the International System of Units . Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole , its definition has been periodically refined to reflect growing knowledge of metrology...

s.

The first and second stages were connected by an interstage structure containing four Siskin IB separation and ullage motor
Ullage motor
Ullage motors are relatively small, independently-fueled rocket engines that may be fired to accelerate the rocket prior to main engine ignition, when the vehicle is in a zero-g situation....

s, which separated and ignited seven seconds after the first stage had cut off. The interstage separated from the second stage six seconds later. The second stage, which was 2.9 metres (9.5 ft) long and measured 1.37 metres (4.5 ft) in diameter, was powered by a two-chamber Gamma 2 engine which ignited shortly after the separation motors, and continued to burn for 123 seconds. Three minutes after launch, during the second stage burn, the payload fairing
Payload fairing
Payload fairing is one of the main components of a launch vehicle. The fairing protects the payload during the ascent against the impact of the atmosphere . More recently, an additional function is to maintain the cleanroom environment for precision instruments.Outside the atmosphere the fairing is...

 separated.

About 257 seconds into the flight, the second stage cut off, and the rocket entered a coast phase to apogee
Apsis
An apsis , plural apsides , is the point of greatest or least distance of a body from one of the foci of its elliptical orbit. In modern celestial mechanics this focus is also the center of attraction, which is usually the center of mass of the system...

. Immediately after cut-off, the second stage attitude control system was pressurised. During the coast the correct orientation for third stage separation was maintained by means of the attitude control system. Towards the end of the coast period, the third stage was be spun up to a rate of 3 hertz (180 rpm) by means of six Imp rockets. Five seconds later, the third stage separated, and following ten more seconds of coasting, it ignited. The third stage was a Waxwing
Waxwing (Rocket motor)
Waxwing was a British solid rocket motor used for apogee kick as the 3rd stage of the Black Arrow satellite launch vehicles.Waxwing was used to successfully place the Prospero X-3 satellite into low Earth orbit on 28 October 1971, Britain's only satellite launch on an indigenously-developed launch...

 solid rocket motor, which burned for 55 seconds.

Just over a minute after the third stage had burned out, the payload was released, and gas generator
Gas generator
A gas generator usually refers to a device, often similar to a solid rocket or a liquid rocket that burns to produce large volumes of relatively cool gas, instead of maximizing the temperature and specific impulse. The low temperature allows the gas to be put to use more easily in many...

s were used to push the spacecraft and spent upper stage apart. The delay between burnout and separation was intended to reduce the risk of recontact between the upper stage and payload due to residual thrust. Despite this, following spacecraft separation on the R3 launch, the upper stage collided with the Prospero satellite, damaging one of the spacecraft's communications antennae; however the spacecraft was still able to successfully complete its mission. On the R3 launch, the ascent took 710 s from liftoff to spacecraft separation.

Although none was ever built, several derivatives of Black Arrow were also proposed, as ways of increasing its payload capacity. One proposal added eight Raven solid rocket motors from the Skylark
Skylark (rocket)
Skylark was a British sounding rocket design. The Skylark was first launched in 1957 from Woomera, Australia and its 441st and final launch took place from Esrange, Sweden on 2 May 2005...

 programme to the first stage as booster rocket
Booster rocket
A booster rocket is either the first stage of a multi-stage launch vehicle, or else a strap-on rocket used to augment the core launch vehicle's takeoff thrust and payload capability. Boosters are generally necessary to launch spacecraft into Earth orbit or beyond...

s. Another suggestion was to mount the entire rocket atop a Blue Streak missile, while a third proposal involved replacing the Gamma engines with the more powerful Larch.

Launches

Four Black Arrows were launched between 1969 and 1971. The first two launches were demonstration flights, with battleship
Battleship (rocketry)
In rocketry, a battleship is a non-functional rocket or rocket stage which is used to test configuration and integration of a launch vehicle.The term should not be confused with the term boilerplate, which refers to a non-functional spacecraft....

 third stages and a boilerplate payload. On the first flight an electrical fault caused a pair of first stage combustion chambers to pivot back and forth. Before it cleared the launch pad, the rocket was rolling erratically, and about a minute later it began to disintegrate. After the first stage engine failed, and the rocket began to fall back to earth, it was destroyed by range safety
Range safety
In rocketry, range safety is assured by the systems which protect people and assets on the rocket range in cases when a launch vehicle might endanger them. Range safety is usually the responsibility of a Range Safety Officer...

. The second launch was successful. The first all-up launch on 2 September 1970 was the third launch of the Black Arrow, and Britain's first attempt to launch a satellite. The launch failed due to a leak in the second stage oxidiser pressurisation system, which caused it to cut out early. The third stage fired, but the rocket did not reach orbit, and re-entered over the Gulf of Carpentaria
Gulf of Carpentaria
The Gulf of Carpentaria is a large, shallow sea enclosed on three sides by northern Australia and bounded on the north by the Arafura Sea...

. The fourth launch successfully orbited the Prospero
Prospero X-3
-External links:* from "Woomera on the Web"* from Encyclopedia Astronautica* in the Global Frequency Database...

 satellite, making the United Kingdom the sixth nation to place a satellite into orbit by means of an indigenously developed carrier rocket. The satellite, also known as X-3, was named Prospero after the character Prospero
Prospero
Prospero is the protagonist in The Tempest, a play by William Shakespeare.- The Tempest :Prospero is the rightful Duke of Milan, who was put to sea on "a rotten carcass of a butt [boat]" to die by his usurping brother, Antonio, twelve years before the play begins. Prospero and Miranda survived,...

 in Shakespeare's
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 The Tempest
The Tempest
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place,...

. The name was chosen as a reference to events in the play, in which Prospero, a sorcerer, gives up his powers. Prior to the cancellation of the Black Arrow programme, the satellite was to be named after Puck
Puck (Shakespeare)
Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow, is a character in William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream that was based on the ancient figure in English mythology, also called Puck. Puck is a clever and mischievous elf and personifies the trickster or the wise knave...

 from A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that was written by William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta...

.

All four launches were conducted from Launch Area 5B
Woomera Launch Area 5
Launch Area 5 at the Woomera Prohibited Area was a rocket launch site which supported a number of British experimental launches, including Britain's first, and as of 2011 only, satellite launch. It consisted of three separate launch pads, which supported 22 Black Knight sounding rocket launches,...

 at the Woomera Prohibited Area in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, which had previously been used as a test site for the Black Knight
Black Knight (rocket)
Black Knight was a British launch vehicle to test and verify the design of a re-entry vehicle for the Blue Streak missile.The United Kingdom's first indigenous rocketry project, Black Knight was manufactured by Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight, had its engines tested at The Needles and was...

 rocket. During the development programme, launch sites in Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

, Uist
Uist
Uist or The Uists are the central group of islands in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.North Uist and South Uist are linked by causeways running via Benbecula and Grimsay, and the entire group is sometimes known as the Uists....

 and Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

 were also considered. The launch sites at Uist and Norfolk were rejected because the former was too remote, while there was a risk that a rocket launched from the latter might drop spent stages on an oil rig
Oil platform
An oil platform, also referred to as an offshore platform or, somewhat incorrectly, oil rig, is a lаrge structure with facilities to drill wells, to extract and process oil and natural gas, and to temporarily store product until it can be brought to shore for refining and marketing...

 in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

.
Serial number
Serial number
A serial number is a unique number assigned for identification which varies from its successor or predecessor by a fixed discrete integer value...

Launch date/time (GMT) Payload Outcome Remarks
R0 28 June 1969, 22:58 None Failure Suborbital test of first and second stages, thrust vectoring failed
R1 4 March 1970, 21:15 None Successful Suborbital test of first and second stages
R2 2 September 1970, 00:34 Orba
Orba X-2
Orba, also known as X-2, was intended to be the first satellite launched by a British rocket. It was launched at 00:34 GMT on 2 September 1970, atop a Black Arrow rocket from Launch Area 5B at Woomera, but failed to reach orbit after the second stage of the carrier rocket shut down 13 seconds early...

Failure Second stage failed to pressurise
R3 28 October 1971, 04:09 Prospero
Prospero X-3
-External links:* from "Woomera on the Web"* from Encyclopedia Astronautica* in the Global Frequency Database...

Successful Successfully reached Earth orbit
R4 Not launched Preserved at the Science Museum
Science Museum (London)
The Science Museum is one of the three major museums on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is part of the National Museum of Science and Industry. The museum is a major London tourist attraction....

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...


Cancellation

The Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Frederick Corfield
Frederick Corfield
Sir Frederick Vernon Corfield, QC, PC was a British Conservative politician and minister.Corfield was the son of Brigadier Frederick Alleyne Corfield and Mary Graham Vernon...

, announced the cancellation of the Black Arrow project in the House of Commons on 29 July 1971. As the R3 rocket had already been shipped to the launch site, the second stage having arrived three days earlier, permission was given for it to be launched.

The programme was cancelled on economic grounds, as the Ministry of Defence decided that it would be cheaper to use the American Scout rocket, which had a similar payload capacity, for future launches. Prior to the cancellation of Black Arrow, NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 had offered to launch British payloads for free; however, this offer was withdrawn following the decision to cancel Black Arrow.

The final Black Arrow to be completed was R4, which did not fly, and is preserved in the Science Museum, London, along with the flight spare for the Prospero satellite. A replica of the Black Arrow rocket stands in the Rocket Park
Rocket garden
[[Image:Nasa rocketgarden.JPG|300px|right|thumb|[[Kennedy Space Center]] Visitor Complex Rocket Garden in 2004. From left to right: Jupiter-C/Redstone, Mercury/Redstone, Thor, Mercury/Atlas, Gemini/Titan II. is a display of [[missile]]s, [[sounding rocket]]s, or space launche usually in an outdoor...

 at Woomera. In addition, the remains of the first stage of Black Arrow R3 were recovered from the Anna Creek cattle station
Anna Creek station
Anna Creek Station is the world's largest working cattle station. It is located in South Australia, Australia. Its area is roughly which is slightly larger than Israel...

 and are displayed in the William Creek
William Creek, South Australia
William Creek, Australia is located halfway on the Oodnadatta Track, 210 kilometres north of Marree and 166 kilometres east of Coober Pedy in South Australia. The town has a population of 6....

 Memorial Park.

The launch facilities at Woomera were demolished within a year of the final flight, and half of the engineers who had worked on the programme were laid off. The X-4 satellite, which had been manifested for launch by Black Arrow R4, was eventually launched on 9 March 1974, by an American Scout D-1 rocket flying from Space Launch Complex 5
Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 5
Space Launch Complex 5 was a launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, United States. It was previously part of the Point Arguello Naval Air Station, during which time it was designated Launch Complex D or LC-D. Constructed in 1961, it was used by 69 Scout rockets between 1962 and 1994...

 at the Vandenberg Air Force Base
Vandenberg Air Force Base
Vandenberg Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Base, located approximately northwest of Lompoc, California. It is under the jurisdiction of the 30th Space Wing, Air Force Space Command ....

 in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

.

As of 2011, the United Kingdom is the only country to have successfully developed and then abandoned a satellite launch capability. All other countries that have developed such a capability have either retained it through their own space programme or, in the case of France, through its involvement in the Ariane programme.



See also

  • Ariel 1
    Ariel 1
    Ariel 1, also known as UK-1 and S-55, was the first British satellite, and the first satellite in the Ariel programme. Its launch in 1962 made the United Kingdom the third country to operate a satellite, after the Soviet Union and the USA...

  • British National Space Centre
    British National Space Centre
    The British National Space Centre was a British government body that coordinated civil space activities for the UK. It was replaced on 1 April 2010 by the UK Space Agency.-Structure:...

  • Diamant
    Diamant
    The Diamant rocket was the first exclusively French expendable launch system and at the same time the first satellite launcher not built by either the USA or USSR. As such it is the main predecessor of all subsequent European launcher projects...

  • Juno I
    Juno I
    The Juno I was a four-stage American booster rocket which launched America's first satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958. A member of the Redstone rocket family, it was derived from the Jupiter-C sounding rocket...

  • Lambda (rocket family)
  • Satellite Launch Vehicle
    Satellite Launch Vehicle
    The Indian Satellite Launch Vehicle or SLV was a project started in the early 1970s by Indian Space Research Organisation to develop the technology needed to launch satellites. The project was headed by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. SLV was intended to reach a height of 400 km and carry a payload of...

  • Sputnik (rocket)
  • Black Knight
    Black Knight (rocket)
    Black Knight was a British launch vehicle to test and verify the design of a re-entry vehicle for the Blue Streak missile.The United Kingdom's first indigenous rocketry project, Black Knight was manufactured by Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight, had its engines tested at The Needles and was...

  • Blue Streak
  • Skylark
    Skylark (rocket)
    Skylark was a British sounding rocket design. The Skylark was first launched in 1957 from Woomera, Australia and its 441st and final launch took place from Esrange, Sweden on 2 May 2005...


External links

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