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Petrel sounding rockets


The need for low cost rockets, to be manufactured and launched in series, appeared in the United Kingdom as soon as the late Fifties. The first realization of this type was the small meteorological Skua rocket, built by Bristol Aerojet Ltd for the Meteorological Office. Later, a Skua 2 version intended for scientific studies was developped on behalf of the BNCSR. Between Skua (13 cm diameter) and Skylark (44 cm diameter), there was place for an intermediate vehicle which was christened Petrel.

Petrel 1

Built by Bristol Aerojet, Petrel was a solid-propellant rocket, boosted at takeoff by three small Chick rockets providing 20 kN each during 0.2 second. The sustainer, Lapwing, provided 4.5 kN during approximately 30 seconds. In order to reduce the production costs, Lapwing used an axial combustion technique. Moreover, Petrel was launched since a simple 10 m length tube and the boosters were recoverable and refillable.
Petrel was 3.34 m long, 19 cm in diameter, and capable of sending a 18-25 kg payload to 140-115 km altitude. It was launched for the first time on June 8, 1967 from South Uist, in the Hebrides islands.

Petrel 2

To improve the performances, a Petrel 2 variant was brought into service in 1977. It used four Chick boosters at takeoff and a lengthened Lapwing motor which burned during 40 seconds. Thus, it could send 18 kg to 175 km altitude.

A total of 234 Petrels sounding rockets were launched until 1982 from various sites: South Uist, Kiruna, Andoya and El Arenosillo in Europe, Thumba in India, Sonmiani in Pakistan and Greenland. Petrel 2 was also used like a target-drone with Woomera.

Tables
a/ Petrel launches on behalf of the Bristish national program
b/ Petrel launches on behalf of foreign organizations


a/ Petrel launches on behalf of the Bristish national program

DateSiteVehicleMissionResults
08 Jun 1967SUIPetrel P1HTechnology 
?? Jun 1967SUIPetrel P2HTechnology 
?? ??? 1967SUIPetrel P3HTechnology 
?? ??? 1967SUIPetrel P4HTechnology 
03 Feb 1968SUIPetrel P5HTechnology/IonosphereS (152 km)
29 Feb 1968SUIPetrel P6HTechnology/IonosphereS (150 km)
06 Mar 1968SUIPetrel P7HTechnology/IonosphereSF (155 km)
06 Mar 1968SUIPetrel P8HTechnology/IonospherePS (139 km)
29 May 1968SUIPetrel P17HIonosphereSF
01 Jun 1968SUIPetrel P18HIonospherePS (131 km)
01 Aug 1968SUIPetrel P13HIonosphere/AstronomySF (131 km)
11 Nov 1968SUIPetrel P15HIonospherePS (142 km)
30 Nov 1968SUIPetrel P19HIonosphereS
05 Dec 1968SUIPetrel P22HIonospherePS
09 Dec 1968SUIPetrel P9HAeronomyPS (118 km)
03 Feb 1969KIRPetrel P24KIonosphereSF (157 km)
11 Feb 1969KIRPetrel P23KIonospherePS (157 km)
14 Feb 1969KIRPetrel P27KIonosphereS (149 km)
15 Feb 1969KIRPetrel P28KIonosphereS (153 km)
17 Mar 1969KIRPetrel P25KIonosphereSF (148 km)
17 Mar 1969KIRPetrel P29KIonosphereS (151 km)
18 Mar 1969KIRPetrel P11KIonosphereS (170 km)
29 Mar 1969KIRPetrel P26KIonosphereS (150 km)
18 Jun 1969SUIPetrel P34HIonosphere/AstronomySF (137 km)
19 Jun 1969SUIPetrel P35HIonosphere/AstronomyS (136 km)
28 Jul 1969SUIPetrel P40HIonospherePS (121 km)
02 Aug 1969SUIPetrel P12HIonospherePS (126 km)
15 Sep 1969SUIPetrel P58HIonosphereSF (141 km)
30 Sep 1969SUIPetrel P46HIonosphereS
01 Oct 1969SUIPetrel P51HIonosphereS
02 Oct 1969SUIPetrel P52HIonosphereSF
10 Oct 1969SUIPetrel P20HIonosphereS (130 km)
11 Oct 1969SUIPetrel P38HElectric fieldsS
14 Oct 1969SUIPetrel P14HIonosphereS
17 Oct 1969SUIPetrel P16HIonospherePS
21 Feb 1970SUIPetrel P53HIonosphereS (148 km)
21 Apr 1970SUIPetrel P36HIonosphereS (139 km)
27 Jun 1970SUIPetrel P39HIonosphereS (126 km)
08 Sep 1970SUIPetrel P30HIonosphereS (147 km)
08 Sep 1970SUIPetrel P32HIonosphereS (147 km)
11 Sep 1970SUIPetrel P31HIonosphereS (147 km)
18 Sep 1970SUIPetrel P10HAeronomyS (144 km)
12 Nov 1970SUIPetrel P21HAeronomyS (85 km)
16 Nov 1970SUIPetrel P37HIonosphereS
19 Nov 1970SUIPetrel P47HElectromagnetic fieldsS (129 km)
02 Dec 1970SUIPetrel P81HIonosphereSF (38 km)
12 Mar 1971KIRPetrel P69KAuroral studiesPS (150 km)
12 Mar 1971KIRPetrel P92KAuroral studiesVF, explosion au sol
05 Apr 1971KIRPetrel P68KIonosphereS (134 km)
14 Apr 1971KIRPetrel P61KIonosphereS (154 km)
15 Apr 1971KIRPetrel P66KAeronomy/IonosphereS (131 km)
16 Apr 1971KIRPetrel P62KIonosphereSF (138 km)
21 Apr 1971KIRPetrel P64KIonosphereS (143 km)
21 Apr 1971KIRPetrel P67KAeronomy/IonosphereS (128 km)
21 Apr 1971KIRPetrel P63KElectric fieldsPS (164 km)
24 Apr 1971KIRPetrel P54KElectric fieldsPS (162 km)
01 May 1971KIRPetrel P65KElectric fieldsPS (146 km)
25 Jun 1971SUIPetrel P48HIonosphereS
26 Jun 1971SUIPetrel P120HIonosphere/AstronomyS (138 km)
28 Jun 1971SUIPetrel P109HIonosphere/AstronomyS (143 km)
14 Jul 1971SUIPetrel P79HIonosphereS (143 km)
14 Jul 1971SUIPetrel P93HIonosphereS (142 km)
13 Sep 1971SUIPetrel P74HIonosphereSF (18 km)
22 Sep 1971SUIPetrel P121HIonosphere/AstronomyS (137 km)
24 Sep 1971SUIPetrel P122HIonosphere/AstronomyS (125 km)
28 Sep 1971SUIPetrel P49HAeronomyS (142 km)
17 Nov 1971(PAK)Petrel P123S/CAeronomyS (130 km)
25 Nov 1971(PAK)Petrel P124S/CAeronomyS
01 Dec 1971SUIPetrel P80HIonosphereS
03 Dec 1971SUIPetrel P82HIonosphereS
06 Dec 1971SUIPetrel P83HIonosphereSF
07 Dec 1971SUIPetrel P84HIonospherePS
10 Dec 1971SUIPetrel P119HIonosphereS
04 Jan 1972(IND)Petrel P78T/CBa/Sr cloudsS (130 km)
06 Jan 1972(IND)Petrel P95T/CBa/Sr cloudsS (169 km)
07 Jan 1972(IND)Petrel P77T/CBa/Sr cloudsS (170 km)
14 Jan 1972(IND)Petrel P89T/CIonosphereS (128 km)
15 Jan 1972SUIPetrel P85HIonosphere/AstronomyS (147 km)
18 Jan 1972(IND)Petrel P88T/CIonosphereVF (23 km)
22 Jan 1972SUIPetrel P107HIonosphere/AstronomyS (142 km)
02 Feb 1972(IND)Petrel P110T/CElectrojetS (134 km)
05 Feb 1972(IND)Petrel P59T/CElectrojetS
13 Feb 1972(IND)Petrel P60T/CElectrojetS (132 km)
17 Feb 1972SUIPetrel P111HIonosphereS (134 km)
18 Feb 1972SUIPetrel P117HIonosphereSF
29 Aug 1972SUIPetrel P118HIonosphereSF
29 Aug 1972SUIPetrel P130HAstronomyS (135 km)
30 Aug 1972SUIPetrel P75HIonosphere/AstronomyS (118 km)
31 Aug 1972SUIPetrel P108HIonosphere/AstronomyS (146 km)
31 Aug 1972SUIPetrel P76HIonosphere/AstronomyVF (26 km)
05 Oct 1972ANDPetrel P127AAuroral studiesPS
07 Oct 1972ANDPetrel P42AAuroral studiesPS
10 Oct 1972ANDPetrel P55AAuroral studiesPS
21 Oct 1972ANDPetrel P126AAuroral studiesPS
23 Oct 1972ANDPetrel P125AAuroral studiesSF
03 Nov 1972ANDPetrel P129AAuroral studiesS
08 Nov 1972ANDPetrel P41AAuroral studiesPS
19 Feb 1973SUIPetrel P116HIonospherePS (124 km)
22 Feb 1973SUIPetrel P114HIonospherePS (126 km)
23 Feb 1973SUIPetrel P113HIonospherePS
20 Mar 1973SUIPetrel P43HIonospherePS (129 km)
31 Mar 1973SUIPetrel P44HIonospherePS (126 km)
03 Apr 1973SUIPetrel P131HIonosphere/AstronomyS (131 km)
03 Apr 1973SUIPetrel P133HIonosphere/AstronomyS (133 km)
03 Apr 1973SUIPetrel P105HIonosphere/AstronomyS (137 km)
03 Apr 1973SUIPetrel P132HIonosphere/AstronomyS (140 km)
03 Apr 1973SUIPetrel P134HIonosphere/AstronomyS (143 km)
03 Apr 1973SUIPetrel P104HIonosphere/AstronomyS (136 km)
03 Apr 1973SUIPetrel P135HIonosphere/AstronomySF (134 km)
19 May 1973SUIPetrel P56HAstronomySF (137 km)
29 Jun 1973SUIPetrel P162HIonospherePS
23 Jul 1973SUIPetrel P45HAstronomyS (143 km)
27 Jul 1973SUIPetrel P163HIonosphereS (135 km)
03 Sep 1973SUIPetrel P97HPhotometryS (135 km)
03 Sep 1973SUIPetrel P98HPhotometryS (143 km)
06 Sep 1973SUIPetrel P165HIonospherePS (131 km)
10 Sep 1973SUIPetrel P102HAeronomyS (170 km)
10 Sep 1973SUIPetrel P103HAeronomyS (168 km)
15 Sep 1973SUIPetrel P106HIonosphereS (124 km)
14 Oct 1973ANDPetrel P100AAeronomyS (166 km)
16 Oct 1973ANDPetrel P141AAuroral studiesS (148 km)
17 Oct 1973ANDPetrel P101AAeronomySF (136 km)
30 Oct 1973ANDPetrel P147AAuroral studiesSF (70 km)
30 Oct 1973ANDPetrel P142AAuroral studiesS (131 km)
30 Oct 1973ANDPetrel P143AAuroral studiesS (134 km)
16 Nov 1973ANDPetrel P150AElectric fieldsS (144 km)
16 Nov 1973ANDPetrel P145AAeronomyS (175 km)
17 Nov 1973ANDPetrel P149AIonosphereSF (137 km)
17 Nov 1973ANDPetrel P146AAeronomyS (175 km)
17 Nov 1973ANDPetrel P148AIonosphereSF (132 km)
02 Dec 1973ANDPetrel P181AElectric fieldsS
02 Dec 1973ANDPetrel P96AElectric fieldsS
06 Dec 1973ANDPetrel P71AIonosphereS
01 Apr 1974SUIPetrel P178HIonosphereS (134 km)
01 Apr 1974SUIPetrel P174HIonosphereS (142 km)
03 Apr 1974SUIPetrel P173HIonospherePS (132 km)
03 Apr 1974SUIPetrel P177HIonosphereS (133 km)
30 Apr 1974SUIPetrel P72HIonospherePS (126 km)
03 Sep 1974SUIPetrel P99HIonosphereS (137 km)
06 Sep 1974SUIPetrel P94HIonosphereS (173 km)
11 Sep 1974SUIPetrel P90HIonosphereSF (135 km)
24 Sep 1974SUIPetrel P50HIonosphereS (133 km)
27 Sep 1974SUIPetrel P57HIonosphereS (136 km)
28 Sep 1974SUIPetrel P161HIonosphereS (123 km)
29 Nov 1974SUIPetrel P175HIonospherePS (135 km)
29 Nov 1974SUIPetrel P179HIonosphereS (132 km)
02 Dec 1974SUIPetrel P91HIonosphereS (130 km)
07 Dec 1974SUIPetrel P183HIonosphereS (132 km)
07 Dec 1974SUIPetrel P176HIonosphereS (137 km)
07 Dec 1974SUIPetrel P128HIonosphereS (135 km)
17 Dec 1974#GRNPetrel P86GAeronomyS (175 km)
17 Dec 1974#GRNPetrel P87GAeronomyS (175 km)
18 Dec 1974#GRNPetrel P166GAeronomyS (175 km)
18 Dec 1974#GRNPetrel P167GAeronomyS (175 km)
09 Feb 1975(IND)Petrel P154TAeronomyS (165 km)
09 Feb 1975(IND)Petrel P158TElectric fieldsS (140 km)
09 Feb 1975(IND)Petrel P155TAeronomyS (165 km)
09 Feb 1975(IND)Petrel P159TElectric fieldsS (140 km)
19 Feb 1975(IND)Petrel P156TAeronomyS (165 km)
19 Feb 1975(IND)Petrel P157TAeronomyS (165 km)
15 Mar 1975(IND)Petrel P70TIonosphereS
15 Mar 1975(IND)Petrel P184TIonosphereS
19 Mar 1975(IND)Petrel P185TIonosphereS (107 km)
03 May 1975SUIPetrel P164HIonosphereS (112 km)
08 Sep 1975SUIPetrel P136HIonosphereS (141 km)
09 Sep 1975SUIPetrel P153HIonosphereS (129 km)
09 Sep 1975SUIPetrel P168HIonosphereS (130 km)
28 Nov 1975SUIPetrel P152HIonosphereS (129 km)
28 Nov 1975SUIPetrel P151HIonosphereS (140 km)
06 May 1976SUIPetrel P115HIonosphereS (136 km)
06 May 1976SUIPetrel P186HIonosphereS (150 km)
04 Jun 1976SUIPetrel P144HIonosphereS (133 km)
04 Jun 1976SUIPetrel P187HIonospherePS (144 km)
05 Jul 1976SUIPetrel P188HIonosphereSF (140 km)
07 Feb 1977SUIPetrel P192HIonosphereS (146 km)
07 Feb 1977SUIPetrel MOP1AeronomyPS (127 km)
11 Feb 1977SUIPetrel P189HIonosphereS (142 km)
07 Mar 1977SUIPetrel P?First Petrel II-
27 Jun 1977SUIPetrel P190HIonosphereS (124 km)
27 Jun 1977SUIPetrel P196HIonosphereS (130 km)
16 Oct 1977SUIPetrel P207HAeronomyS (207 km)
02 Feb 1978SUIPetrel P199HIonosphereS (140 km)
02 Feb 1978SUIPetrel P203HIonosphereS (112 km)
02 Feb 1978SUIPetrel P112HIonosphereS (135 km)
06 Feb 1978SUIPetrel P200HIonosphereS (136 km)
06 Feb 1978SUIPetrel P202HIonosphereSF (125 km)
07 Feb 1978SUIPetrel P204HIonosphereS (108 km)
07 Feb 1978SUIPetrel P198HIonosphereS (139 km)
13 Feb 1978SUIPetrel MOP2AeronomyPS
13 Feb 1978SUIPetrel MOP4AeronomySF
30 Jul 1978KIRPetrel P205KIonosphereS (149 km)
12 Aug 1978KIRPetrel P206KIonosphereS (150 km)
25 Jan 1979KIRPetrel P216KIonosphereS (183 km)
27 Jan 1979KIRPetrel P215KIonosphereS (179 km)
28 Mar 1979ANDPetrel P208AIonosphereSF (169 km)
20 Jul 1979SUIPetrel P209HIonospherePS (149 km)
20 Jul 1979SUIPetrel P210HIonosphereS (145 km)
20 Jul 1979SUIPetrel P211HIonosphereS (145 km)
24 Sep 1979ARNPetrel P217EIonosphereVF (30 km)
03 Oct 1979ARNPetrel P218EIonosphereS (145 km)
26 Jul 1980KIRPetrel P223KIonosphereSF (168 km)
11 Nov 1980KIRPetrel P221KEnergy BudgetS (171 km)
16 Nov 1980KIRPetrel P220KEnergy BudgetSF (174 km)
30 Nov 1980KIRPetrel P222KEnergy BudgetS (196 km)
07 Feb 1981KIRPetrel P219KEnergy BudgetS (171 km)
01 Dec 1981KIRPetrel P224KEnergy BudgetS (187 km)
09 Dec 1981KIRPetrel P225KEnergy BudgetEE (188 km)
16 Dec 1981KIRPetrel P226KEnergy BudgetS (187 km)
04 Aug 1982KIRPetrel P235KEnergy Budget(140 km)
11 Aug 1982KIRPetrel P214KEnergy Budget(129 km)
Notes: Launch site: AND: Andoya; ARN: El Arenosillo; KIR: Kiruna; SUI: South Uist; (IND): India; (PAK): Pakistan; #GRN: Greenland
S: success; PS: partial success; SF: system failure; VF: vehicle failure

b/ Petrel launches on behalf of foreign organizations
List under construction (incomplete) - Informations or corrections are welcome

DateSiteVehicleMissionResults
09 Aug 1970KIRPetrel S P4? 
26 Jan 1971KIRPetrel P40Ionosphere (ESRO)S
04 Jan 1976ARNPetrel BVI/1AeronomyS (135 km)
21 Jan 1976ARNPetrel BVI/2AeronomyS (135 km)
21 Jan 1976ARNPetrel BVI/3AeronomyS (135 km)
30 Jul 1978KIRPetrelMPI-1(71 km)
12 Aug 1978KIRPetrelMPI-2(65 km)
19 Dec 1981ARNPetrelFOCCAS (106 km)
13 Mar 1982ARNPetrelFOCCAVF


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Please contact Jean-Jacques Serra <JJ.Serra@wanadoo.fr> for comments, corrections or questions