Encyclopedia Astronautica
Black Arrow



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Black Arrow 1970
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Black Arrow
Credit: © Mark Wade
British orbital launch vehicle. Britain's only indigenous launch vehicle. Following cancellation of the project in July 1971, one final launch was permitted, which successfully placed the Prospero satellite in orbit.

Used unique propellant combination and large number of simple motors. Black Arrow was a three stage vehicle. The first stage had an 8 chamber layout with 4 pairs of Gamma engines gimballed as with Black Knight giving thrust in all axes. The second stage had two Gamma chambers with extended nozzles to give full expansion in vacuum. Both engines were gimballed to provide thrust in three axes. The third stage for Black Arrow was a Waxwing solid rocket motor manufactured by RPE Westcott.

LEO Payload: 73 kg (160 lb) to a 200 km orbit. Failures: 2. Success Rate: 50.00%. First Fail Date: 1969-06-27. Last Fail Date: 1970-09-02. Launch data is: complete in 1985 dollars. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 8.000 million.

Stage Data - Black Arrow

  • Stage 1. 1 x Black Arrow-1. Gross Mass: 14,104 kg (31,093 lb). Empty Mass: 1,070 kg (2,350 lb). Thrust (vac): 234.820 kN (52,790 lbf). Isp: 265 sec. Burn time: 142 sec. Isp(sl): 251 sec. Diameter: 1.98 m (6.49 ft). Span: 1.98 m (6.49 ft). Length: 6.86 m (22.50 ft). Propellants: H2O2/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: Gamma 8. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Black Arrow-2. Gross Mass: 3,537 kg (7,797 lb). Empty Mass: 535 kg (1,179 lb). Thrust (vac): 68.234 kN (15,340 lbf). Isp: 265 sec. Burn time: 113 sec. Isp(sl): 251 sec. Diameter: 1.37 m (4.49 ft). Span: 1.37 m (4.49 ft). Length: 2.90 m (9.50 ft). Propellants: H2O2/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: Gamma 2. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 3. 1 x Black Arrow-3. Gross Mass: 397 kg (875 lb). Empty Mass: 87 kg (191 lb). Thrust (vac): 29.400 kN (6,609 lbf). Isp: 278 sec. Burn time: 28 sec. Isp(sl): 245 sec. Diameter: 0.69 m (2.26 ft). Span: 0.69 m (2.26 ft). Length: 1.22 m (4.00 ft). Propellants: Solid. No Engines: 1. Engine: Black Arrow-3. Status: Out of Production.

Status: Retired 1971.
Gross mass: 18,130 kg (39,960 lb).
Payload: 73 kg (160 lb).
Height: 13.00 m (42.00 ft).
Diameter: 1.98 m (6.49 ft).
Thrust: 222.40 kN (49,998 lbf).
Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).
First Launch: 1969.06.27.
Last Launch: 1971.10.28.
Number: 4 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Prospero British earth micrometeoroid satellite. 2 launches, 1970.09.02 (R-2) to 1971.10.28 (Prospero). Tested space equipment for future satellites and conducted a scientific experiment to measure the incidence of micro-meteoroids. More...

Associated Engines
  • Black Arrow-3 British solid rocket engine. 29.4 kN. Out of production. Isp=278s. Used on Black Arrow launch vehicle. First flight 1969. More...
  • Gamma 2 Bristol Siddley H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 68.2 kN. Out of production. Isp=265s. Used on Black Arrow launch vehicle. First flight 1969. More...
  • Gamma 8 Bristol Siddley H2O2/Kerosene rocket engine. 234.8 kN. Out of production. Isp=265s. Used on Black Arrow launch vehicle. First flight 1969. More...

See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • RAE British agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Royal Aerospace Establishment, UK. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space 1915-1960, NASA, 1961. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.
  • Newell, Homer E, editor, Sounding Rockets, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1959.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Woomera After World War II British government recognized the need for a large range to test the incredible array of long-range missile systems then planned. After considering sites in Canada, it was decided that Australia would best meet the projected needs. The Long Range Weapons Establishment was created on 1 April 1947 as a joint British/Australian enterprise. 23 days later the name Woomera (an aboriginal word of axtlaxtl, or spear thrower) was selected for the new town to be built as its administrative center. Woomera town peaked at a population of 6,000 in the 1960's. Thereafter the progressive cancellation of British missile and space projects put Woomera went into sustained decline. However it played a key role in the history of rocketry, including orbital launches or launch attempts by Black Arrow, Sparta, and Europa boosters. More...

Associated Stages
  • Black Arrow-1 H2O2/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 14,104/1,070 kg. Thrust 234.82 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 265 seconds. More...
  • Black Arrow-2 H2O2/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 3,537/535 kg. Thrust 68.23 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 265 seconds. More...
  • Black Arrow-3 Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 397/87 kg. Thrust 29.40 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 278 seconds. More...

Black Arrow Chronology


1969 June 27 - . 22:58 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Vehicle: Black Arrow. LV Configuration: Black Arrow-BA0 R-0. FAILURE: Control lost after 50 sec. Destroyed by range safety.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 4.00 km (2.40 mi). Summary: Suborbital research and development flight.

1970 March 3 - . 21:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Vehicle: Black Arrow. LV Configuration: Black Arrow-BA0 R-1.
  • - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 550 km (340 mi). Summary: Successful suborbital research and development flight.

1970 September 2 - . 00:34 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Vehicle: Black Arrow. LV Configuration: Black Arrow R-2. FAILURE: Second stage shut down 13 seconds early.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Orba - . Payload: X 2. Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Class: Earth. Type: Micrometeoroid satellite. Spacecraft: Prospero. Decay Date: 1970-09-02 . COSPAR: F700902A. Apogee: 550 km (340 mi). Summary: Unsuccessful attempt to orbit a satellite..

1971 October 28 - . 04:09 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Vehicle: Black Arrow. LV Configuration: Black Arrow R-3.
  • Prospero - . Payload: X 3. Mass: 66 kg (145 lb). Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Class: Earth. Type: Micrometeoroid satellite. Spacecraft: Prospero. USAF Sat Cat: 5580 . COSPAR: 1971-093A. Apogee: 1,403 km (871 mi). Perigee: 531 km (329 mi). Inclination: 82.0000 deg. Period: 104.40 min. Summary: To test in space equipment for future satellites and to conduct a scientific experiment to measure the incidence of micro-meteoroids. Launch time 0409 GMT, injection point 13.7 deg S, 137.9 deg E. Anticipated life 100 years. .

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