Encyclopedia Astronautica
Skylark



skylark.jpg
Skylark
British sounding rocket. The Skylark sounding rocket (originally named the Gassiot High Altitude Vehicle) was produced by the Royal Aircraft Establishment and first introduced in 1957, during the International Geophysical Year. It remained in European service until 2005. The original basic single-stage Skylark version used a Raven 1 motor (Rook derivative). The RPE Raven 1 burned 840 kg of propellant (ammonium perchlorate, polyisobutylene binder and aluminium powder) in thirty seconds with a 1450 kNs total impulse at sea level.

The British Skylark sounding rocket had a protracted gestation. As early as 1941 the Gassiot Committee of the Royal Society identified a need for rocket soundings to support research of the upper atmosphere. The Royal Aircraft Establishment conducted numerous studies, one of which was the CTV5 series 3, designed to send a 45 kg payload to 150 km. It was only the impetus of the impending 1957 International Geophysical Year that finally brought action. In 1955 the Royal Aircraft Establishment was finally authorized to proceed with a rocket to carry 45 kg to 210 km. This was named Skylark in 1956 and first flew the following year.

Initial versions of the unguided rocket had such a slow acceleration that a 30 metric ton, 50 m high launch tower was required. This was rectified in the many later variants. The British program ended in 1979 after 266 launches. The Skylark was employed by NASA in 1961 when four were fired from Woomera, Australia, in a program of southern hemisphere stellar photography. ESRO used the rocket for 82 launches before it was closed down in 1971. German and Swedish microgravity projects continued to use the remaining stock of rockets for microgravity launches into the next millennium. The final launch was in 2005.

Failures: 37. Success Rate: 91.63%. First Fail Date: 1958-06-05. Last Fail Date: 1987-11-23. Launch data is: complete. Launch Price $: 7.600 million in 2005 dollars.

Status: Retired 2005.
Gross mass: 1,100 kg (2,400 lb).
Height: 7.60 m (24.90 ft).
Diameter: 0.44 m (1.44 ft).
Span: 0.96 m (3.14 ft).
Thrust: 44.00 kN (9,891 lbf).
Apogee: 850 km (520 mi).
First Launch: 1957.02.13.
Last Launch: 2005.05.02.
Number: 442 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • Goldfinch Royal Ordnance solid rocket engine. Out of production. Used on Skylark launch vehicle. More...

See also
  • Skylark The Skylark sounding rocket (originally named the Gassiot High Altitude Vehicle) was produced by the Royal Aircraft Establishment and first introduced in 1957, during the International Geophysical Year. It remained in European service until 2005. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. 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.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Serra, Jean-Jacques, Rockets in Europe, Web Address when accessed: here.

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