18 August 2009

The Black Arrow was planned as an inexpensive satellite launcher based on the technology of the earlier British Black Knight sounding rocket. Black Arrow would have given the United Kingdom an independent satellite launch capability. The first Black Arrow launch took place in June 1969, but the rocket veered off course. The second test eight months later went smoothly leading the way for Britain's first satellite launch attempt in September 1970. But this launch failed when the Black Arrow's second stage failed to fire.

In July 1971 the UK government canceled the Black Arrow but permission was given for one more launch on 28 October 1971 which put Britain's first satellite, Prospero, into orbit. However there would be no other launches or development and Britain henceforth limited its space activities with involvement in the European Space Agency, making the UK the first and only nation to abandon satellite launch capability.

Source: Spaceflight: The Complete Story from Sputnik to Shuttle and Beyond by Giles Sparrow. DK Limited, 2007, p56-57.

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