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Skua sounding rockets


In 1959, the Meteorological Office was authorized to create a High Altitude Research Unit with mission of carrying out atmospheric studies up to 80 km of altitude. The small meteorological Skua solid-rocket was created by Bristol Aerojet Ltd with the collaboration of the RPE of Wescott to allow this kind of investigation at lower cost. It was a 2.24 m length rocket, 12.7 cm in diameter, weighing 36.7 kg (57.6 kg with the booster rocket), launched simply from a 5 m length tube. The Chick booster rocket burned during 0.2 sec, were jettisoned at about 20 m of altitude and recovered by parachute. The Bantam second stage burned about thirty seconds and could reach approximately 70 km of altitude with a 5 kg payload (a radar-reflecting parachute allowing winds measurements and a probe for temperature measurements).
The first flight occured in 1962 from South Uist in the Hebrides Archipelago. In this version, more than 900 Skua rockets were used in six countries and from eleven different sites.

Skua rocket and its launching tube Skua

When the BNSCR program required the use of sounding rockets at low cost, being able to be manufactured and launched in series, an instrumented version of Skua was created. Skua 2 was similar to Skua 1, but slightly longer (2.42 m) to place the scientific payload and the telemetry package, and equipped with an improved engine enabling it to reach 100 km of altitude with a 5 kg payload. More than fifty Skua 2 were fired between 1967 and 1972 as part of the British national program.

The last version of the series was Skua 4, appeared in 1972. It weighed 83.3 kg and could send a 7,5 kg payload to 140 km of altitude.

Tables
a/ Skua launches on behalf of the Bristish national program
b/ Skua launches on behalf of foreign organizations
Note: These listings do not include meteorological (no instrumented) Skua launches.


a/ Skua launches on behalf of the Bristish national program

DateSiteVehicleMissionResults
08 Jul 1967SUISkua Su1HAeronomyS (73 km)
09 Jul 1967SUISkua Su2HAeronomyS (73 km)
21 Jun 1968SUISkua Su3HIonosphere (ions)VF
24 Jun 1968SUISkua Su4HIonosphere (ions)S (100 km)
02 Jul 1968SUISkua Su5HIonosphere (ions)PS
08 Jul 1968SUISkua Su6HIonosphere (ions)S (100 km)
23 Nov 1968SUISkua Su7HIonosphere (ions)PS
05 Dec 1968SUISkua Su7aHIonosphere (ions)PS
29 Mar 1969SUISkua Su8HIonosphere (electrons)PS (88 km)
07 Aug 1969SUISkua Su9HIonosphere (electrons)S (94 km)
08 Nov 1969SUISkua Su10HIonosphere (electrons)PS
16 Nov 1969SUISkua Su11HIonosphere (electrons)PS
05 Dec 1969SUISkua Su12HIonosphere (electrons)S
12 Dec 1969SUISkua Su24HD layerPS (79 km)
16 Dec 1969SUISkua Su25HD layerS (89 km)
09 Jan 1970SUISkua Su26HD layer (electrons)S (82 km)
18 Feb 1970(IND)Skua Su13T/CD layer (ions)S (92 km)
12 Jan 1970SUISkua Su26HD layerS (85 km)
11 Apr 1970SUISkua Su27HD layerS
11 Apr 1970SUISkua Su28HD layerS
14 Apr 1970SUISkua Su16HF layer (ions)S (92 km)
14 Apr 1970SUISkua Su17HD layer (ions)S (92 km)
15 Apr 1970(IND)Skua Su15T/CD layer (ions)SF (93 km)
16 Apr 1970(IND)Skua Su14T/CD layer (ions)S (91 km)
17 Apr 1970SUISkua Su18HD layer (ions)S (95 km)
24 Jun 1970SUISkua Su23HD layerS
01 Jul 1970SUISkua Su29HIonosphereS
08 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/1AeronomyE
15 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/2AeronomyS
17 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/3AeronomyE
19 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/4AeronomyS
21 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/5AeronomyS
23 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/6AeronomyPS
25 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/7AeronomyS
27 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/8AeronomyPS
29 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/9AeronomyS
31 Jan 1971KIRSkua SK83/10AeronomyS
03 Feb 1971KIRSkua SK83/11AeronomyS
08 Feb 1971KIRSkua SK83/12AeronomyPS
09 Feb 1971KIRSkua SK83/13AeronomyS
11 Feb 1971KIRSkua SK83/14AeronomyS
12 Feb 1971KIRSkua SK83/15AeronomyPS
01 Jul 1971SUISkua SK39HIonosphereS
14 Jul 1971SUISkua SK36HD layer (electrons)S
30 Jul 1971SUISkua SK37HD layer (electrons)PS
15 Sep 1971SUISkua SK38HD layer (electrons)S (82 km)
14 Oct 1971SUISkua SK41HD layer (electrons)S (91 km)
19 Nov 1971SUISkua SK42HD layer (electrons)S
05 Jan 1972(IND)Skua SK30T/CElectric fieldsVF (1.7 km)
15 Jan 1972SUISkua SK43HGeophysicsS (87 km)
18 Jan 1972(IND)Skua SK31T/CD layerVF (1.7 km)
31 Jan 1972(IND)Skua SK32T/CD layerS (80 km)
19 Apr 1972SUISkua SK45HGeophysicsS (87 km)
17 May 1972SUISkua SK44HGeophysicsS (93 km)
12 Oct 1972ANDSkua SK19AD layerS
23 Oct 1972ANDSkua SK20AD layerS
29 Oct 1972ANDSkua SK21AD layerS
Notes: Launch site: AND: Andoya; ARN: El Arenosillo; KIR: Kiruna; SUI: South Uist; (IND): India
S: success; PS: partial success; SF: system failure; VF: vehicle failure

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

DateSiteVehicleMissionResults
19 Mar 1970KIRSkua SSK3/1Twilight Probe(105 km)
19 Mar 1970KIRSkua SSK3/2Twilight Probe(105 km)
19 Mar 1970KIRSkua SSK3/3Twilight Probe(105 km)
19 Mar 1970KIRSkua SSK3/4Twilight Probe(105 km)
19 Mar 1970KIRSkua SSK3/5Twilight Probe(105 km)
21 May 1971ARNSkua IITMA cloud 
28 May 1971ARNSkua IITMA cloud 
11 Nov 1980KIRSkua IIEnergy Budget E7(97 km)
16 Nov 1980KIRSkua IIEnergy Budget E7(96 km)
01 Dec 1980KIRSkua IIEnergy Budget E7(92 km)
09 Dec 1981KIRSkua IVEnergy Budget E8(70 km)
09 Dec 1981KIRSkua IIEnergy Budget E7(95 km)


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