BRITAIN'S FIRST SPACE ROCKET

The story of the Skylark


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1957 Feb 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SL01 is fired from Woomera at 11:21 am local time, Wednesday 13 February 1957
(WRE\Dorling (1959), figure 12)

Summary: SL01 was the first Skylark ever launched. The vehicle carried no university experiments, only RAE test instruments to monitor performance.

Preparation: SL01 was originally due to be launched November 1956, but motor problems delayed firing until February 1957.

Flight: This first flight lasted only two minutes, during which Skylark traveled to a height of 40,000 feet (7.6 miles / 12 km) and downrange for a distance of 153,000 feet (29 miles / 47 km). The relatively low altitude of this first test was deliberate, resulting from the combination of low initial thrust from the Raven I motor, and the depressed angle of the launch tower.

Recovery: The impact point was located, but SL01 was buried in the ground up to its motor nozzle, so no recovery attempt was made.  

Result:  This first firing was regarded as most successful. The vehicle traveled up the launch tower without problem, and was stable before and after powered flight. Telemetry reception was continuous for practically the whole time.

Seq.
Nos

Launch
date

Ref.
(sponsor)
launch site

Config-uration

Apogee km
(miles)

Experi-menter

Experiments

Res-ult

1
(1)

13 Feb. 1957

SL01
(UK)
Woomera

Un, Raven 1

12
(9.6)

RAE

Test general vehicle & range proving, & Black Knight aerial temperature

S

More:
(i)  'Britain's First Space Rocket' book: page 71 onwards
(ii) 'Britain's First Space Rocket' book: see pages 76 and 77 (use back arrow to return here)
(iii) Documentary film about Woomera, featuring the launch of SL01: www.australiansatwork.com.au/rocket/rocket_sc7-8.php

(iv) Dorling (1959), The First Six Skylark Firings, pp.19-23. (RAE Technical Report GW530, Oct.1959) (TNA:PRO DSIR 23/27687)
(v) Brand (2016), Britain's First Space Rocket, Space Chronicle, Vol.69 Suppl.2, 2016, pp.71-84. British Interplanetary Society

                       New Forest Electronics Tel. +44 (0) 1425 650089                 Issue 3.62    20 September 2017