Home SCIENCE Black Arrow – The Lipstick Rocket – A Very British Space Program

Black Arrow – The Lipstick Rocket – A Very British Space Program

This is the story of the Black Arrow, a uniquely British satellite launch system that could have helped Britain become a space fairing nation. But Whilst the Americans & Soviets threw billions of dollars & Rubels and the power of the state at the problem of space.

image/text credit: Curious Droid 

The British after WW2 struggled with little money and resources. In 1971 Britain became the 6th country to develop an independent satellite launch system and before the launch was completed the only country to give up on it’s own system.more info(curious-droid)

‘Black Arrow’ played to British strengths. HTP fuel technology had already been developed in experimental British submarines and torpedoes. The fuel also has the advantage of not requiring cryogenic storage and all the extra handling and insulation that goes with it, very convenient for launches in the hot Australian desert.


‘Black Arrow’ took off for the last time on October 28, 1971, and made it orbit with a textbook launch. As ‘Prospero’ was released, the solid-fuel third stage bumped and damaged one of the four communication antennae. However, the satellite functioned as intended, and remained in radio contact with the British tracking station in Lasham, Hampshire until 1996, when its mission was officially concluded.