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Blue Streak based satellite transport system

alertken

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Selection of DH Props as airframe lead for (to be) Blue Streak.
I have a note of 1954 first MoS flurry with EE. Where did I get this? Maybe S.R.Twigge, Early Devt.of GW in UK,Harwood,’93. My memory is of comment that EE MD Geo.Nelson feared that such a visible techno-political task would encourage Nationalisation. RPE was pushing for GW to be treated as ordnance, to be handled by Establishments (as was done in France and {Redstone Arsenal}, US). Props MD, 1954/55 was AVM Sorley, very well connected ex-MoS/MAP/A.M (it was he, 1936, who did the lethality work that led to 8x.303 in Hurricane/Spitfire). It was he that got IR/AAM work into little Hamilton Standard airscrew licencee; it was he that leapt into the ex-EE void and said: Me, Sir!. Props got Stevenage factory from it (part- US MAP-funded. It would be good for fans to stop talking of Blue Streak as being British. Reported cancellation nugatory expense was £84Mn. That was net of US cash infusion of $8Mn. {to mid-58 P163,I.Clark,Nuclear Diplomacy&the Special Relationship,OUP,94}, plus Elliott/Bosch Arma I.N, Rocketdyne propulsion, Convair Systems Integration data...oh, and the warhead-in-work at chop).
 

CNH

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OR 9001 was a fairly 'blue skies' requirement that never achieved anything concrete. What the RAF wanted was a Space Shuttle in 1963, which was a touch optimistic. What Roy is saying is that it couldn't be done with Blue Streak, but possibly could be done with a vehicle using 4 or more RZ2 motors. That's not quite the same thing as saying there was a design or requirement.
 

CNH

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It would be good for fans to stop talking of Blue Streak as being British.
Could we say the Mustang was not American since it used a licenced Merlin engine?
 

Spark

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The launch pad and gantry purpose was put in the public domain fifty years ago,
there was a response to JFK's moon speech broadcast by the BBC that gave details and suggested the UK restart work on the large launchers and the manned satellite programme that had been cancelled some months previous be restarted.
Seven or eight launches could place a similar payload mass to Apollo in LEO and be achieved by 1968.
There was discussion on which would be best the 4 or 5xRZ2 cluster vehicle and mention was made of clustered Blue Streaks. We can see that these were both feasible and economic suggestions.

The maximum number of launches for the missile programme was 24 in a year with 65 tons of LOX per flight say 300tons for wastage etc. Say 7,200tons in total.
The plant at Woomera was for 36,500tons capacity of LOX per year

Armstrong Whitworth and other companies would not have asked as an individual company to look at space craft design after about 1957.

Hansard reports on what was REcon sat work by Hawkers in 1960




CNH said:
"UK studies for a three-man crew in orbit were done by several firms,
for example Armstrong-Whitworth, 91"
Not in Roy Dommett's article. I've never heard Roy make any reference to such a design.

The Woomera launch pads and gantries were sized to these vehicles
You have a reference for this?

English Electric may well have been 'eased out', but the workings of the Ministry of Supply were often designed to parcel out work to firms almost irrespective of merit.

The fact that the official sources are so well weeded indicates how important the work was.
Actually, it's possible to argue the direct opposite. What's the point of keeping files that have no relevance?

Hansard has reports of UK satellites work circa 1960.
1959. And?
 

JFC Fuller

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I have looked in Hansard and I dont seem to be able to find the reference to recon satellites that is supposedly there. Would it be possible for someone to post the link or qoute?

Thank you.
 

Barrington Bond

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Just a thought that way back then satellite was the word to use for unmanned or manned space probes/planes/capsules...

Chiz,
Barry
 

Spark

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Sorry, its before the April cancellation but i do not have the exact date, can give you the exact referance next week. I use the library and will not be able get to the net earlier.

Just to keep the ball rolling I am aware of two American derived engines that were too be used by Blue Streak and five UK derived engines as possibilities plus one private proposal from RR.


sealordlawrence said:
I have looked in Hansard and I dont seem to be able to find the reference to recon satellites that is supposedly there. Would it be possible for someone to post the link or qoute?

Thank you.
 

Spark

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Agreed, thanks Barry.

HC Deb 27 april 1960 vol 622 cc211-345

Hawker Siddeley recon satelite. TV + photographic images?



sealordlawrence said:
Barrington,

Excellent find, thanks for posting!
 

Barrington Bond

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Aircraft Engineering September 1961 pages 262 - 265
Recent British Technical Progress in Aeronautics
Part Three – Space Activities
A commentary on Developments Which Have Ocurred Principally During The Past Twelve Months
By S.R. Dauncey, B.A., A.F.B.I.S., and A.G. Holmes-Seidle, B.A., Ph.D., F.B.I.S.

“Hawker-Siddeley Aviation’s satellite has evolved into a design having little in common with an earlier rather crude concept published in mid-1960. Its weight has been fixed at a level (about 500lb), such that Blue Streak, with appropriate upper stages, could launch it into a highly elliptic orbit. An advanced form of this satellite was described at the British Instituition of Radio Engineers’ meeting at Oxford in July.
The satellite proposed was a station-keeping attitude controlled, active repeater, obtaining its power from a semi-sun-seeking solar cell array and transmitting a total power of 12 watts at 2 K Mc/s, to give up to 1,000 telephone channels. Since the system is for commercial telephone traffic, reliability is important: thus, the performance figures quoted were those which should be achieved under the most unfavourable conditions. Also, very little use has been made of not yet in a practical working state, the five or so years required before the satellites would be launched being used for consolidation and life-testing rather than for the development of new components.”


Regards,
Barry
 

Barrington Bond

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Just found this...

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/66/66we79.htm

Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Memorandum 71



Submission from Reginald Turnill


SOURCE

As BBC Aerospace Correspondent, Reginald Turnill has covered spaceflight, and especially human spaceflight, since 1956. He was at Cape Canaveral and Houston for all the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, and created Jane's Spaceflight Directory. His other books include Farnborough: The Story of RAE; Celebrating Concorde; and The Moonlandings.


EXECUTIVE SUMMMARY

This paper provides a first-hand account of the negative decisions which have led to Britain being the world's only major country not to participate in human spaceflight. Other submissions will no doubt draw attention to the need for a more positive space policy aimed at reviving academic and public interest in advanced technology—as supersonics and Concorde did for many years. It concludes by drawing attention to Mr Roy Gibson, the first DG of the ESA and then BNSC, who must be the most distinguished civil servant never to receive an award.


1. In the mid-50s my job was to watch and report on the US and Soviet scientists working themselves, their populations and their rocket engineers into a state of near-hysteria in the technical contest to be first to establish men on "the high ground" of space,—the Moon. Alongside it all, I was monitoring successive British Government decisions to pull out of the missile race, with accompanying ditherings as to whether past missile investments could be put to some use in space technology.


2. Mention of Hawker Siddeley's Blue Streak intermediate range missile, had been forbidden by the Ministry of Defence in the late 1950s—even though it stood proud in its gantry for all to admire as we drove past Hatfield on the A1. Very reluctantly—because Ministries felt more important if they had secrets to guard—Blue Streak ws finally declassified in 1958. But the decision to abandon it as a defence weapon, even when sunk for protection in concrete bunkers, was not announced until April 1960, when its future already looked bleak.


3. The question in 1958 was whether the millions consumed during its development could be recovered by using it as a spacecraft launcher. As you know, Peter Thorneycroft, then Aviation Minister, was given the task of trying to create a joint European and Commonwealth "space club" around Blue Streak.


4. At the same time the Government was vacillating about Black Knight, a 35ft-tall research rocket developed by Saunders Roe in the Isle of Wight. At the still all-British Farnborough Air Display in September that year its makers had enthusiastically prepared a site in the Guided Missiles section on which they planned to display a full-size mockup to the public.


5. To most people rockets and missiles still meant weapons of war and the ability to deliver nuclear bombs, and few as yet thought of them as potential spacecraft launchers. Arriving at my first Farnborough, I expected to make Black Knight a major feature of my radio and TV stories, but when I hurried there with the camera crew on Press Day the site was empty, and the Ministry of Supply remained obstinately silent about the reasons.


6. Not until eight days later, on the last Sunday evening, with thousands jamming the exits on their way home, did officials manning the Ministry of Supply stand produce from under the counter a one-twelfth model of Black Knight—passing word to their rather limited number of friends that it was on display. I was not among the friends.


7. Called to account at a Press conference next day, Minister of Supply Aubrey Jones said the model had been produced a few hours after Black Knight had been successfully test-fired in Australia. No aircraft was ever shown at Farnborough, he explained, unless it had accomplished ten hours of test-flying. There were no rules governing the display of rockets, so he had made one—that none should be shown at Farnborough unless it had been successfully test-fired. He still thought he was right, he said, despite all the criticism. The actual reason for his ruling—the pathological fear of failure—was of course not mentioned.


8. In an interview I extracted from Jones the information that his Ministry—probably the most secretive of all Ministries when it came to accounting for its expenditure of the public's money—had spent £5 million on Black Knight. It was a one-stage research vehicle able to reach an altitude of 600 miles, and was intended to explore the problems of heating, etc, when a space vehicle was re-entering the Earth's atmosphere from orbit.


9. "It doesn't put us into the satellite business, but it puts us halfway there—if we choose to go there" he said. Trying to sound less critical, I asked how Britain had managed to produce Black Knight so cheaply, compared with American efforts. "We do all our research, compared with the Americans, on a shoe-string", he boasted. "That's one of the exciting things. We do achieve results by much more economical means."


10. This, however, did not quite tie-up with what his fellow Minister, Harold Watkinson of Transport and Civil Aviation, had told the pre-show dinner guests of the Society of British Aircraft Constructors. Insufficient attention had been paid, he said, to the need for planemakers and airline operators to earn some sound profits. There were then still six years to go before relationships between the aerospace industry and Harold Wilson's Labour Government were to explode into public snarling, but Whitehall was already becoming noticeably impatient with demands from these industries for subsidies and financial backing.


11. These were the years when Governments as well as the Services and the airlines, began to prefer American products to those produced in Britain. The catch phrase was that it was so much cheaper to buy them "off the shelf" from our US ally than to invest millions of pounds doing our own development work—disastrously encouraged by a shortage of skilled labour and no serious worries about unemployment. Needless to say, this approach was warmly applauded as sensible and far-sighted by our much shrewder American competitors. The unions, obsessed with trying to improve the conditions of their lowest-paid workers, were less interested in long-range prospects for engineers and technicians who were still in short supply and could easily get jobs.


12. The British-built V-bombers and their stand-off bombs were still not fully operational, but I was already covering the arrival from the US of "the ultimate weapon"—60 Thor IRBMs (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles). We were told that they were "intelligent monsters", 65 feet long, 8 feet in diameter, able to work out their own trajectories if and when they delivered their H-bombs on the 1,500 mile journey from the Norfolk coast to their Soviet targets. They lay prone in their specially-built air-conditioned shelters, ready at the touch of a button to roll out on their private railway, raise themselves into the vertical position, slurp up around 50,000kg of liquid hydrogen and kerosene, and set off.


13. Having described their arrival and explained how national pride was salved by arrangements that they could be fired only when both US and British Air Force officers produced their twin keys, I almost forgot about them until I returned for the dismantling story six years later. In between, RAF crews faithfully serviced their 60 intelligent monsters, their boredom relieved with occasional trips to Cape Canaveral to make test-firings of the oldest of their charges. For most of that time the Thor IRBMs had been "sitting ducks", totally vulnerable to a Soviet first-strike. But one supposes they did give British engineers and technicians some second-hand, but much restricted familiarity with the technology of what later became the Delta space launcher.


14. A modest beginning to a national space programme was announced to the House of Commons by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 12 May 1959. Expenditure, he said, would be in hundreds of thousands. rather than millions of pounds. He appeared to be in substantial agreement with a Labour MP who queried whether there was any value in the work apart from "keeping up with the Joneses". Neither by nature nor education said Mr Macmillan was he "inclined to swallow everything that scientists told him", but he was impressed by the universal opinion of the distinguished people who had been consulted.


15. Foremost among these was Prof (later Sir) Harrie Massey , who was appointed to head a British space research team sent off to Washington to discuss possible co-operation on satellite launchers. But the main British effort, it was made clear, would be directed at the design and construction of instruments for satellites, rather than either complete satellites or complete launchers.


16. Space research was made the responsibility of Quintin Hogg, former MP, then Lord Hailsham, Lord President of the Council. I interviewed both him and Massey after they had held a news conference following the Prime Minister's announcement. Massey, calm and courteous, was always an effective advocate of British space activities, but he made it clear from the start that his preference was for "instruments automatically operated", and he specifically ruled out even biological studies of animals in space. The attitude of this much-respected scientist was to make it impossible to obtain any effective support in Britain for manned spaceflight for the remainder of the 20th century.


17. Lord Hailsham, as always, found it a great effort to bring himself down to the mental level required for a radio and TV interview. He did not relish my questions about "hitching a lift" in American satellites, and whether, once we had started, Britain would "go for the moon".


"Is there no hope then that the Dan Dare of the future won't be American and won't be Russian, but will be British?" "Well I don't know, I don't know at all". "You're not offering us any hope." "Well, I don't know why you should call it a hope. I'm quite happy with the Earth, but I dare say we can arrange something for you in one of our satellites of the future."


18. By then Prime Minister Macmillan had accepted the US offer to supply Skybolt missiles at knock-down prices—we would not, it seemed, have to contribute to their development costs. This air-launched missile would be dropped from an under-wing pod up to 1,000 miles from its target by second-generation British V-bombers. The independence of Britain's nuclear deterrent would be maintained by the fact that Skybolt would carry British-made nuclear warheads—even if they could not reach their targets without US help. Macmillan, it was clear, had also half-committed Britain to follow Skybolt with the purchase of US Polaris missiles for launch from submarines. The rivalry of the US Air Force and Navy in promoting these weapons I will come to later; and already Britain's few knowledgable space enthusiasts foresaw a bleak future for British technology in the anticipated spin-off area of space launchers.


19. I had difficulty pulling together all the threads of events in 1960. Much was happening simultaneously in defence, aviation and space—accelerated so far as Britain was concerned by the appointment in December 1959 of Duncan Sandys as the country's first Minister of Aviation. He immediately started to force the famous aircraft companies to merge themselves into two large groups by the simple expedient of telling them that any company not merging would get no more Government contracts. Handley Page, Britain's oldest aviation company, refused to comply and was driven into bankruptcy.


20. In the US the state of mind was vividly illuminated when an Air Force general in the Pentagon told me: "The real danger is that Russia will invent something we haven't invented!" This sort of panic mentality meant that it was a golden age for the inventors—and there were some areas which the US was glad to leave to Britain. They included vertical take-off aircraft, and within days of building a broadcast around the General's remark I was watching Tom Brooke-Smith giving the first demonstration at RAE Bedford of the Short SC1—soon overtaken by Bill Bedford and the Britsol Siddeley 1127.


21. The US Air Force watched British developments with close interest—and especially, while they were introducing their 8-jet B52 bombers, the parallel development by Britain of three different V-bombers—the Valiant, Vulcan and Victor. With Moscow only 1,500 miles away from London, the V-bombers needed only one-third the range of their US rivals. Nevertheless, the RAF decided to demonstrate to the world that by means of inflight refuelling, the Vickers Valiant V-bomber could fly 8,100 miles non-stop from Singapore to Marham in Norfolk—a gimmick perhaps to attract export orders.


22. So, one day in May 1960 a BBC camera crew and I set off from Northolt Airport to cover its arrival—but I never learned whether it did arrive. Two small RAF Ansons were provided to ferry newsmen who had dutifully signed forms absolving the Air Force from any liability in the event of accident, to Marham. The second Anson, carrying the camera crew, suffered an engine failure on take-off, and the pilot shut down the good engine instead of the failed one, and ended by pancaking on to the roof of an Express Dairy egg factory. Happily the only serious casualties were thousands of neatly-packed eggs—so we covered that story instead—to the great annoyance of the RAF and the Valiant bomber crew.


23. Next day I was back on the Skybolt story, demanding from Harold Watkinson, now the Defence Minister, what would happen if the United States suddenly cancelled Skybolt, as had happened so often with such ambitious projects. No problem, retorted Watkinson: "We are full partners in the project, so any such decision would have to be made by both partners together". It was not a bit like that when cancellation did come—and even I did not believe it possible that an ally could be given such short shrift.


24. Between doing a sensational "lead" that the Skybolt deal had been accompanied by an unannounced US-British plan for a round-the-world H-bomb patrol with their combined fleets of nuclear bombers, I visited the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield. There was little interest in my report from there that because of the urgent need for training in space technology the College was about to start a 12-months' course on the subject.


25. "Is it possible," I asked the unfortunate professor, "for Britain to teach space techniques when she hasn't got a space programme of her own?" "Yes Mr Turnill, we don't see any difficulty or inconsistency because we believe that space technology is just a continuation of aeronautical engineering along a particular line." Britain and its young scientists have indeed been fortunate that such people have never given up. The result has been a steady flow of British scientists right through the second half of the 20th century—into the space programmes of course of other countries.


26. In the second half of 1960s the Soviets followed up the shooting down of Gary Powers in his high-flying U2 by shooting down a USAF RB47 reconnaissance aircraft, with six-crew aboard, because they alleged it was inside their territorial waters over the Barents Sea while taking a sideways radar look at Soviet defence systems.


27. Ten days later two Soviet dogs were launched into orbit and safely recovered, and I was interviewing Squadron Leader Peter Howard of the RAF's School of Aviation Medicine for an explanation of why the Americans sent up monkeys and the Soviets dogs. Physiologically, explained Peter (who became a friend as well as an Air Marshal in the ensuing 30 years) a dog was more like a man; but while monkeys were smaller they had the great advantage that you could train them "to push buttons and work knobs" as men would have to do. The Soviets, we were to discover, were eight months away from placing Yuri Gagarin in orbit.


28. A week after that I was in a Vulcan of 617 Squadron, describing the RAF's new procedure for getting Britain's V-bomber fleet into the air within two minutes of a warning that Soviet missiles had been launched against us. The theory was that the BMEWS radar warning system could give us four minutes' warning that missiles had been launched—just time to boil an egg, said some wag. But, it was argued, if we could get the V-bombers, with their H-bomb loads, airborne in half that time, there would be no point in the Soviets launching their missiles in the first place, since the V-bombers would utterly destroy Russia no matter what damage their missiles did.


29. To convince the public—and of course the US Air Force—of this, I sat in the dark below and between the pilot and co-pilot—the inside of the Vulcan was more like a cellar than a flight deck—recording: "This is the Bomber Controller. Scramble, scramble, scramble." Five pairs of hands reached in all directions for those knobs and buttons envisaged by Peter Howard; pilot and co-pilot, facing forward, used a new procedure to start all four engines simultaneously instead of in sequence. Behind them, three technicians facing backwards and looking at TV displays and radar screens, were equally busy, arming and targeting their weapons. We lifted off the runway at Scampton, Lincolnshire, in 1 minute 57 seconds.


30. At the Farnborough Air Show a week later, Valiant, Victor and Vulcan squadrons took daily turns to demonstrate that they too could achieve such take-off times. It certainly impressed—as well as deafening—the visiting public, but the hope was that the numerous "military attaches" attending from London's Soviet Embassy would be even more impressed and send warnings to Moscow in their intelligence reports. The cold war was at its frostiest.


31. At this time America felt that they needed British approval of their policies as never before—with the result that a few days after the end of Farnborough, I became an "honorary major-general" in the US Air force for a memorable three weeks. Seventeen British air and defence correspondents were provided with a 40-seater Convair of the US MATS (Military Air Transport Service, fitted out with a seat and worktable for each of us for a 20,000 miles tour around US military establishments, in Greenland and Iceland, culminating in top-level briefings at the Pentagon and State Department.


32. In addition to periodic broadcasts during the tour on America's long-range missile and space policies (the fulfilment of which I followed for 20 years afterwards) I had a fascinating encounter with Dr Edward Teller, an excitable scientist world-famous as "Father of the H-bomb". He was foremost among top-level Soviet-haters, who scared us with their mindset of "If we've got to have a war, let's get it over with". Teller sat across the table from me criticising his fellow scientists for arguing that the Soviets would learn nothing of military value by their planned space probes to Mars and Venus. "That's all very well" he declared with passion, "but what I want to know is: what KIND of nothing?"


33. At that time Teller was campaigning for the resumption of nuclear tests, arguing that the US had given the Soviets a huge military advantage by suspending tests and saying that they would never be the first to make a nuclear strike. This was a miscalculated risk, he told us. More tests were needed to develop smaller rockets and bases. How would nuclear explosives work in a vacuum, and what kind would be needed to destroy military satellites? The Soviets might be doing nuclear tests far out in space, where it would be difficult to detect them, with none of the radioactive fallout coming back to earth.


34. Then came rival briefings from US Air Force seeking to convince us that what was needed was their airborne ballistic missile Skybolt, while the US Navy (who were to win) argued that they should be allowed to develop the submarine-borne missile Polaris. General Raborn, its chief advocate, told us: "It's sort of like Marilyn Monroe; it can do something for everybody!"


35. Meanwhile Peter Thorneycroft, in pursuance of Macmillan's orders 18 months earlier for "a modest beginning" in space, had completed talks with Australia, Canada and France, aimed at persuading them to join a European/Commonwealth "space club" using Blue Streak as a first stage launcher for placing "heavy satellites" in Earth orbit. There was no obvious role at that time for Canada, but it was probably that stimulus that led to Canada becoming a major player in the space game in later years; Australia was eager to join in anything that would enable the Woomera rocket range to survive.


36. The French alone seemed lukewarm. It was all much too British-led. But they were obsessed with fulfilling de Gaulle's insistence on an independent French nuclear strike force, and the need to replace out of date bombers with long-range missiles as a delivery system. They wondered whether a version of Blue Streak, suitably de-Anglicised, might save them a lot of development money. So the French had told Thorneycroft that they would consider it and let him know.


37. So, as 1961 began, hopes rose that there would be a future after all for the British scientists and engineers who had built a reservoir of knowledge during their work on space-related defence projects. After weeks spent touring Europe, Aviation Minister Peter Thorneycraft attended a 12-nation conference at Strasbourg which agreed in principle to the idea of forming a European space club around the abandoned Blue Streak missile. Britain contributed that as the first stage of a space launcher free of charge, and also agreed to pay a major share of an (under)estimated £70 million needed to fund a five-year test programme. Arguments followed as to whether the second stage should be Britain's Black Knight or France's Veronique, with other countries contributing their specialities in instrumentation, metallurgy, etc.


38. It was three years later before seven European nations, plus Australia, agreed to form ELDO, the European Launcher Development Organisation. Europe would challenge US-Soviet supremacy with a launcher consisting of Britain's Blue Streak carrying France's Coralie as 2nd stage, West Germany's Astrid as 3rd stage, and test satellites provided by Italy. Belgium was to provide the ground guidance station, and the Netherlands telemetry links and other equipment. Australia, of course, was providing the use of Woomera.


39. That was Europa 1, and accompanied by quarrels, failures and some limited success, 10 test firings were carried out at Woomera. The Australians didn't want to know when it was pointed out that Woomera was not near enough to the Equator for launching satellites, so during that time the cunning French built a launch site at Kourou in the South American jungle near Cayenne, of pepper fame.


40. And in November 1971 I was there with the world's space correspondents to witness the first flight of Europa 2—which also had a French 4th stage perigee motor said to be able to place a 200kg satellite in geostationary orbit.The British, French, German and Italian teams were talking to each other, but only to complain about each other's lack of co-operation. It was impressive to watch, from some miles away, the rocket rising from the midst of thick jungle. But no one was surprised when, two and half minutes later, a screen showed it going off course and exploding. I had a convenient circuit and within minutes the BBC was broadcasting my description of Blue Streak exploding.


41. There were more explosions among the warring rocket teams, each—and especially Hawker Siddeleys—insisting that their stage was not to blame for the disaster. A press conference opened with a violent attack on the BBC, my broadcast having come straight back on World Service. Later came threats to throw me and my old friend Ronald Bedford of the Daily Mirror, into the swimming pool. We managed to extract ourselves, and went off to bed. It was the London Evening Standard man who finally got manhandled, and in an alcoholic poolside fracas the senior Hawker Siddeley man ended with a broken arm.


42. Later of course Blue Streak was declared innocent, having been overstressed by the course deviation, and a replacement Europa 2 was aboard a French ship bound for Kourou for another attempt when, on 27 April 1973, the whole project was abandoned.


43. Lessons were learned. Out of it all grew the European Space Agency, and our own Roy Gibson was appointed its first Director General. A born peacemaker, his policy of "just return", guaranteeing that every member country would in the long run get full value for its investment, turned ESA into the world's finest example of what international collaboration can achieve. When a media campaign led to the formation of the British National Space Centre, Roy Gibson was appointed the first DG of that, and asked by the Government to propose a space policy. He did so, and it included a number of "menu" or alternatives, with varying costs. The Thatcher government rejected the whole of it, and declared it "classified" so that it could not be published—and indeed to this day it never has been. Gibson was forced into a resigning position, and his remarkable services to this country have never been recognised in any way.


November 2006
 

Barrington Bond

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Hansard 27 April 1960

Perhaps it will salve the consciences of right hon. Gentlemen opposite if it is appreciated that such a programme could have military advantages. If they go on and finish the development of Blue Streak, one of the things that will happen is that they will keep in the development race of rockets for military purposes. Again, we will be able to send up reconnaissance satellites. The Hawker-Siddeley firm is now working on a programme for reconnaissance satellites which will be able to circle the earth perpetually televising down to earth pictures of everything that they see. It will be possible to instruct those satellites from the ground to send down detailed photographs of any particular spot which one might want to study in detail.

That is a programme which will help to solve the problem of international inspection. Hawker-Siddeley is not being financed by the Government in this programme, but is making an independent private attempt to develop something in that field for Britain. But the firm will be unable to send up such a satellite under British auspices unless Blue Streak is developed. There will then be only the Americans and the 295 Russians able to undertake such a project.
 

Barrington Bond

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Hansard 21 Dec 1960

Mr. David Price(Eastleigh)
In the very short time available to me I wish to discuss one proposed satellite communication system to illustrate the very cogent and telling argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) and the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt), and to show the House that in terms of hard cash there could be money in space for this country now if the Government were so minded.

To illustrate my argument I will take the design studies of de Havillands. They propose a system of eight equi-spaced satellites in orthogonal orbits. At an altitude of 6,500 miles full 24-hour continuous global coverage is ensured. That makes allowance for an effective radio horizon of about 7½ degrees above the true horizon.

The launcher for such a system is available, if we continue work on Blue Streak, Black Knight and a third-stage combination. Such a combination is capable of placing satellities weighing between 300 lb. and 400 lb. in the required 24-hour orbit. This capability is adequate, even when using audio-modulation, and conventional components and methods in a satellite with an initial capacity of from 100 to 200 telephone circuits.

That is a figure substantially above anything proposed in the Commonwealth cable link. Frequency modulation, multiplexing and pulse coding, when applied, will increase the circuit capacity many times, and the application of micro-miniaturisation techniques will produce satellites, of the same weight or less, having a capacity of 1,000 or more telephone circuits—plus one or two television circuits.

This proposed system is on a tiring programme of three attempts a year for the first five years, and five attempts a year subsequently, if and when required. American experience of success in firing, I may say, is much lower than ours. Nonetheless de Havillands allow in their design studies for a 50 per cent. initial success in firing, rising 1394 through 75 per cent. after twenty firings. They are working on the basis of an operational life of one year, rising through a 5-year operational life for satellites launched in the fourth year to a 25-year standard for satellites launched in the fifteenth year. The final aim is to establish a completely duplicated thousand-circuit capacity, 25-year life system within twenty years of the first satellite being launched.

The costings show that it would be possible, as my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon said, to reduce trans-Atlantic telephone calls from the present £1 a minute to 6d. a minute in about the fifteenth or sixteenth year. As a result of this study we believe that it is possible, on the basis of market survey so far carried out, to increase the telephone communications round the world by a factor of ten.

The profit figures to which my hon. Friend referred—and which I could have developed further had there been time—show a return of over £450 million over twenty years on an outlay of about £300 million. That is good profit in any terms, even for a Government, and when we think of the capital outlays on which Her Majesty's Government have lost a lot of the taxpayers' money, I should have thought that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, like a previous one, would have a song in his heart and welcome the project enthusiastically.

I should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the developments that are taking place in America, the Post Office intends to go ahead with the proposed Commonwealth round-the-world telephone cable link which is estimated to cost somewhere between £80 million and £100 million and which will be obsolete before it is laid. I wonder, too, whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member far Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), looking into the future, might get his Public Accounts Committee to give its mind to this.

I now ask the question: what is holding up de Havillands at the moment? What is holding things up is Government indecision. There is indecision over Black Streak—I hope that my hon. Friend will tell us, that, at last, the Government have made up their minds to go ahead. Or are we to have continual shilly-shallying? The second 1395 thing that is holding things up is the Post Office. It is no good saying that this is something that private enterprise should do. Private enterprise cannot do it, because the responsibility is the Government's.

Viewing our affairs from the relative calm of the back benches, I begin to doubt whether the Government—or, for that matter, their democratic alternative—grievously overburdened with the affairs of the world today, understand intellectually and emotionally how man's entry into space is already shaping the world of tomorrow. Mankind is obviously entering a long new phase of exploration and development comparable to the conquest of the air and of the oceans, and vastly exceeding these in scope.

The discovery of Africa and America and the sea route to the East in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, led to changes in European life so far-reaching as to amount almost to a revolution. How much more revolutionary will be the changes arising from man's discoveries in space? Viewed historically, Britain dare not stand aside from space. At the same time, we have to recognise that we cannot possibly hope to compete on equal terms of expenditure and diversity of projects with Russia or America. Therefore, we have to select with greater care and with greater imagination than either of the continental giants those space projects which we should support. Our resources are so much smaller but they are by no means negligible. Do not let us underestimate them, as I believe Her Majesty's Government are doing at the present time.

We believe that a communications satellite system is one such project. I beg the Government to take this project seriously. I realise, of course, that to some of the older members of the Government and of the Opposition Front Bench this project must sound like space fiction, but the world has moved on. The science fiction of yesterday is the common practice of today. Dear me, Jules Verne is almost a "square" today.

I beg the Government to take courage. Too frequently on space matters the language of the Government has been 1396 the language of lions, but the actions of the Government have been the actions of mice. We hope through the alchemy of Parliamentary debate, and if necessary of Parliamentary censure, to persuade the Government that it lies within their power if they are so minded to become lions.
 

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Having chosen to chop the IRBM, 13/4/60, Ministers chose to dribble fund as a satellite Launch Vehicle, thinking already of the politics of Euro-collaboration. There was the issue of, ah, complicated "ownership" of Industrial Property: even the Prospero team accept that UK had taken benefit from the various US data deals.

10/8/61: UK applies to join EEC.
29/3/62: UK as a founder of the ELDO Convention, throwing Blue Streak into the techno-pot as First Stage. Thus giving CDG access to Thor/Atlas I US technology, aiding the programme that became Hadès.
14/1/63: Non de Gaulle. UK perseveres with ELDO, and adds other Defence collaborations, in hope of his favour.
10/5/67: UK applies again.
27/11/67: Non! again. Ministers despair of Space as an investment, rather than political, project: "futile".
23/4/68: UK announces cessation by 3/71 of its funding into ESRO and ELDO. (UK stayed in payload “buses”).

Europa never placed a payload in orbit; France invented Ariane; FRG took part of UK’s share.

The payoff, in Space, is in the (making and) use of satellites. Not in launching them.
 

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alertken said:
The payoff, in Space, is in the (making and) use of satellites. Not in launching them.
And has actually been something of a success for UK industry as of late and has caught the eye of the treasury in a positive manner.
 

CNH

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even the Prospero team accept that UK had taken benefit from the various US data deals.
If by that you mean Black Arrow owed anything to American technology, I'd be interested to know what it was.

The payoff, in Space, is in the (making and) use of satellites. Not in launching them.
Hear, hear!
 

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alertken said:
The payoff, in Space, is in the (making and) use of satellites. Not in launching them.
True, but if someone else has a monopoly on launch vehicles, they can really mess you about, delay you and give their own people a chance to catch up.
 

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Given US interest in the late 50's in launching directly from the sea, and the HYDRA and SeaBee tests, did anyone in the UK ever look at similar ideas?
 

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PMN1 said:
Given US interest in the late 50's in launching directly from the sea, and the HYDRA and SeaBee tests, did anyone in the UK ever look at similar ideas?
The RN looked at the idea, IIRC. A proposed conversion of a Majestic Class carrier, I think.
 

PMN1

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Grey Havoc said:
PMN1 said:
Given US interest in the late 50's in launching directly from the sea, and the HYDRA and SeaBee tests, did anyone in the UK ever look at similar ideas?
The RN looked at the idea, IIRC. A proposed conversion of a Majestic Class carrier, I think.
How about directly from the sea?
 

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Mentioned in PRO AIR 2/13676 - five page paper on WaterBorne Ballistic Missile Firing Sites. Considering some form of dry dock, but the idea doesn't go any further.

The aircraft carrier conversion wasn't for ballistic missiles but SAMs.
 

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Sea Slug to be precise, there is a diagram of the design in Vanguard to Trident.
 

Grey Havoc

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I knew I had seen a proposal for a conversion of a Majestic Class as a satellite launch vessel somewhere on the forums. Unfortunately it looks like what I remembered was this. In relation to possible RN space launcher projects though, there was this on the same thread. Of course that particular catamaran based design might have been a government (or private) project with no Royal Navy involvement whatsoever.
 

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"The aircraft carrier conversion wasn't for ballistic missiles but SAMs."

Not a ballistic either, but Avro WRD also proposed launch of W.112N from submarines, fast minelayers and carriers.

Chris
 

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There was a Hawker Siddeley proposal for a first stage “Blue Streak” consisting of two basic ten foot diameter Blue Streaks bodies aligned along the major axis each with a single engine giving a thrust in excess of 300,000lb, I assume a RZ14 development?
Payload I guess between 15 and 20 twenty tons this was for an ELDO B proposal, this was from Charles Martin who as the chief engineer on the Blue Streak knew most things.
The Second stage was 14 ft diameter and the third stage a little less.
Has any one come across any details because since his death I have come up a against a blank wall?



CJGibson said:
"The aircraft carrier conversion wasn't for ballistic missiles but SAMs."

Not a ballistic either, but Avro WRD also proposed launch of W.112N from submarines, fast minelayers and carriers.

Chris
 

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This looks interesting:

A Vertical Empire: History of the British Rocketry Programme (2nd Edition)
by C. N. Hill
<blockquote></blockquote>>"A Vertical Empire" provides a description of the British rocketry and space programme from the 1950s to 1970s, detailing the Medium Range Ballistic Missile Blue Streak and its conversion to a satellite launcher as part of the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO). This extensively revised second edition includes material only made available in the past ten years and the text is supplemented by numerous photographs, sketches and statistics. The all-British satellite Black Arrow is described, as well as the research rocket Black Knight, the Blue Steel missile and the rocket powered interceptor aircraft.
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Imperial College Press (January 31, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1848167962
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848167964
 

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CNH

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Indeed it does look interesting, but I was going to hold back until nearer the publication date.

The new edition is a considerable improvement on the old one [IMHO!] - 380 pages vs 250; 124k words as against 90k. It also benefits from research in archives that didn't exist in the 1990s, and also from talking to many of those who were involved at the time - most sadly, no longer with us.
 

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Barrington Bond said:
Prospero
The Blue Streak Weapon
Roy Dommett
page 31 of the download article

UK studies for a three-man crew in orbit were done by several firms, for example Armstrong Whitworth, and for a while the RAF had an Air Staff Target, OR 9001, issued in April 1962, and held a conference on the possibility about August 1963. Blue Streak as it stood would have been too small, it probably needed a four-engined first stage to obtain adequate lift into orbit.

Above the exact quote from the article, which I assume is referring to their "Pyramid" design.
Regards,
Barry
Talking of the Pyramid

In Volume 59 Supplement 2, 2006 of BIS’s Space Chronicles – UK Spaceplanes, there is a short article on the late 50’s Armstrong Whitworth Pyramid manned vehicle and a new launcher for it with a launch mass of 160 tonnes and a diameter of 3.96m and a first stage length of 12.5m (nothing quoted for second or third stages)
Pyramid was expected to weigh about 1,879kg (though the article suggests this is low) and have a length of 25ft 3”, a span of 29ft 6”, a height of 9ft 3” and a plan area of 3658 sq ft with the crew in a cylindrical structure at the rear.
Because the Pyramid vehicle could not fit symmetrically within the fairing envelope of the launch vehicle, it was proposed that the vehicle could be mounted in an offset position with a symmetrical fairing on the other side. This mirror volume could have contained the small third stage required to inject the vehicle into orbit.

This from Bob Parkinson (ca'nt remember the date...)

There is not a lot more information than was in the paper, I'm afraid. The launch vehicle was an addendum to the Pyramid study, and those creating it admitted that they were not launch vehicle designers. It would have had a four-chamber variant of the RZ-2 engines used on the Blue Streak (presumably an RZ-4) in the first stage, but whether it would have had Lox-kerosene upper stages or HTP-kerosene I do not know, and that was probably a detail the A-W people thought might be considered later. Since we know the diameter 3.96 m and the fact that it was a constant diameter all the way up it suggests that it would be possible to make a guesstimate of the overall length.
 

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CNH said:
Indeed it does look interesting, but I was going to hold back until nearer the publication date.

The new edition is a considerable improvement on the old one [IMHO!] - 380 pages vs 250; 124k words as against 90k. It also benefits from research in archives that didn't exist in the 1990s, and also from talking to many of those who were involved at the time - most sadly, no longer with us.
Do you have anything on the early proposals for satellite recon?

If you're looking for a manuscript reviewer, I volunteer (I've done that numerous times before).
 

CNH

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Satellite recce - yes, indeed, since it was that which drove the early design for the BSSLV. There's lots on it in the PRO.

Manuscript is now with publishers; one last proof read then print.

As to the Armstrong Whitworth proposal - as far as I can tell, it was purely an in-house study. In other words, there was no requirement. Any launch vehicle would have been purely speculative.
 

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Hi,

UK Industry was asked to provide proposals for a RAF Spaceplane.
Tom Kerr said it was still “embryonic” at the time of cancellation.
The launch pads at Woomera were built to take million pound thrust rockets.
Val Cleaver states that the stands at Spadeadam could take the same.
The service tower, gantry was built to take military variants up to the sixteen foot diameter Blue Streak Military SLV., with about same payload as the Shuttle.
Charles Martin told me that in addition “we should not forget the “fifteen foot" for which a lot of work was done” This again was a military project to a similar standard diameter adopted by the US, hence at a later date the Shuttle bay width.
Remember the TSR2 satellite com. Net cancelled with other items about July 1960.
It was originally intended that Number eleven from the production line was to be a dedicated SLV trials vehicle with dummy upper stages. To be followed by working upper stages.
They must have had an idea of size and mass these upper stages.

 

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With the ideas that used Blue Streak bodies as strap on boosters, could you have a propellant cross feed system that Space X use now for its Falcon Heavy vehicles?
 

blackstar

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PMN1 said:
With the ideas that used Blue Streak bodies as strap on boosters, could you have a propellant cross feed system that Space X use now for its Falcon Heavy vehicles?
SpaceX hasn't demonstrated it yet.

You might ask why nobody has done this yet.
 

CNH

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Okay, come on, tell us, why hasn't anyone done it yet?

The HSD proposal was for three Blue Streaks cross linked, so the outer two feed the central one then drop away.

Two snags: Blue Streak was quite expensive (£4 million at 1960s prices, multiply by approx 20 to get today's prices); secondly, HSD could only make 4 a year without major expoansion of facilities.
 

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Hi,
The idea of three vehicles launched in parallel and feeding the centre component so it is fully fuelled at separation appears to predate the start of the Blue Streak Programme
It certainly was in play with the UK military programme by the end of the fifties as a considered possibility.
The 1958/9 cost estimate of BS round was according to ministry documents about £500,000 plus £2,500,000 for the warhead.
In 1960 the cost was anticipated as about £250,000 for SLV by de Havilland’s
The planned MoS requirement for the production line built at Stevenage was for Fifty vehicles a year. Therefore the 1960 annual production cost for fifty SLVs would be about £12,500,000 ranging up to about £25,000,000 for Fifty missiles.
Because of politics production is limited to about Four SLVs annually the costs when coupled to inflation one could easily conceive as being about £4,000,000 by the end of the sixties.




CNH said:
Okay, come on, tell us, why hasn't anyone done it yet?

The HSD proposal was for three Blue Streaks cross linked, so the outer two feed the central one then drop away.

Two snags: Blue Streak was quite expensive (£4 million at 1960s prices, multiply by approx 20 to get today's prices); secondly, HSD could only make 4 a year without major expoansion of facilities.
 

CNH

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It certainly was in play with the UK military programme by the end of the fifties as a considered possibility.
The 1958/9 cost estimate of BS round was according to ministry documents about £500,000 plus £2,500,000 for the warhead.
I have never come across this - can you give me a source?
 
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