Adapted from The Satellite Encyclopedia.
The development of the Black Arrow space launcher began in 1964 under direction of the Royal Aircraft Establishment. It was 3-stage rocket of only 13 m high weighing 18.1 tons at takeoff with a LEO payload capacity of nearly 100 kg.
The first stage weighed 14.1 tons and measured 5.9 m in length and 2 m in diameter. It was equipped with a Gamma-8 motor that featured 8 combustion chambers (gimbaled nozzles). It burned during 125 seconds providing 218 kN thrust at sea level and 251 kN in vacuum. The second stage was 3.55 m high, 1.37 m in diameter and weighed 3.5 tons. Its Gamma-2 motor featuring 2 combustion chambers (gimbaled nozzles) used the same propellant and delivered 69 kN thrust during 120 seconds. The third stage was under the 1.37 m diameter fairing and placed on a spinning table. It was 1.3 m high, 71 cm in diameter and weighed 0.5. This stage was powered by a Waxwing solid fuel motor providing a mean thrust of 21 kN during 40 seconds.
The first suborbital flight, which occurred in June 1969 failed but the second in March 1970 was successful. The first orbiting attempt failed in September 1970 when second stage shutdown 13 seconds early. In July 1971 the British government decided to drop the national program although one flight was still to be carried out. Nonetheless it was fired in October 1971 and orbited the Prospero satellite.
Black Arrow launches
|#||Launch id||Payload||Launch Date||Site||Type||Status/Comment|
|1||n/a||Suborbital flight||29 Jun 1969||WOO||2-stage||Failure: control lost after 50 sec|
|2||n/a||Suborbital flight||04 Mar 1970||WOO||2-stage|
|3||n/a||Orba X2||02 Sep 1970||WOO||Failure: 2nd stage produced unsufficient thrust|
|4||71093||Prospero X3||28 Oct 1971||WOO|