Black Brant (rocket)

Black Brant (rocket)

The Black Brant is a Canadian-designed sounding rocket built by Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Over 800 Black Brants of various versions have been launched since they were first produced in 1961, and the type remains one of the most popular sounding rockets ever built . They have been repeatedly used by the Canadian Space Agency and NASA.


Black Brant was the result of research at CARDE during the 1950s into the nature of the upper atmosphere as part of ongoing research into anti-ballistic missile systems and very-long-range communication. In 1957 CARDE contracted Bristol to produce a simple rocket fuselage, called the Propulsion Test Vehicle, for studies into high-power solid fuels. The resulting design, by Albert Fia, was quite heavy, as it was designed to be able to accommodate a wide variety of engine burning times, propellant loadings and launch angles in keeping with its role as a test vehicle for ABM systems development. The first test flight took place only two years later from Fort Churchill in September 1959.

CARDE's attention later turned to long-distance communications and they found the "Propulsion Test Vehicle" system useful as a sounding rocket. To better suit this role, Bristol modified the design to be lighter and more tailored to the sounding rocket role. This became the Black Brant. CARDE launched a number of Black Brant rockets over the next few years, both the original "Black Brant I" design which could place a 150 lb (68 kg) payload to 150 km altitude, as well as the larger "Black Brant II" which first flew in October 1960, and the smaller but higher-altitude "Black Brant III".

In July 1963 the much larger "Black Brant V" first flew, which was also used as a booster stage for the "Black Brant III" to make the "Black Brant IV". The IV first flew in 1964, but failed, as did the next test launch. Aside from these two launches, which were corrected for, the Black Brant has never had another failure, making it one of the most reliable rockets in history. Since then it has undergone continual evolution, and the current versions are the XI and XII, consisting of Black Brant V used as an upper stage, with Talos and Terrier boosters as lower stages. They have reached altitudes of more than 1500 km, which is in the ionosphere, well above the orbits of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.

The propellant designs developed by CARDE in the Black Brant program were the highest performing solid fuels of their day. Bristol then placed this propellant in a new 2.75 in (70 mm) rocket to form the CRV7, the first rocket capable of penetrating standard Warsaw Pact aircraft hangars. The CRV7 has since gone on to become the de-facto standard rocket for most Western-aligned militaries.

In present day, due to its 98% success rate, it remains one of the most popular sounding rockets ever built. The rockets have been used repeatedly by the Canadian Space Agency and NASA. There is a 1:1 scale model of the Black Brant 9 rocket in front of the head office of the Canadian Space Agency in Saint-Hubert, south of Montreal.


Black Brant I

*Payload: 68 kg
*Maximum flight height: 225 km
*Launch thrust: 111 kN
*Launch mass: 730 kg
*Diameter: 0.26 m
*Length: 7.41 m

Black Brant II

*Payload: 68 kg
*Maximum flight height: 274 km
*Thrust: 89 kN
*Mass at launch: 800 kg
*Diameter: 0.44 m
*Length: 8.45 m

Black Brant III

*Payload: 18 kg
*Maximum flight height: 177 km
*Thrust: 49 kN
*Mass at launch: 286 kg
*Diameter: 0.26 m
*Length: 5.50 m.

Black Brant IV

*Two stage rocket consisting of Black Brant VA + Black Brant IIIA or IIIB
*Payload: 100 kg
*Maximum flight height: 1,000 km
*Thrust: 111 kN
*Mass at launch: 1,356 kg
*Diameter: 0.44 m
*Length: 11.06 m

Black Brant V

*Single stage rocket consisting of one Black Brant VA, VB, or VC
*Payload: 68 kg
*Maximum flight height: 387 km
*Thrust: 111 kN
*Mass at launch: 1197 kg
*Diameter: 0.44 m
*Length: 8.15 m.

Black Brant VI

*Maximum flight height: 72 km
*Thrust: 7 kN
*Mass at launch: 100 kg
*Diameter: 0.12 m
*Length: 2.80 m.

Black Brant VIII

*Maximum flight height: 340 km
*Thrust: 196 kN
*Mass at launch: 2,000 kg
*Diameter: 0.44 m
*Length: 11.90 m

Black Brant X

*Payload: 90 kg
*Maximum flight height: 900 km
*Thrust: 257 kN
*Mass at launch: 2600 kg
*Diameter: 0.44 m
*Length: 14.50 m

Black Brant XI

*Three stages:Talos as 1st stage, Taurus as 2nd stage, and Black Brant V as 3rd stage. [ [ Capability Catalog - Black Brant XI ] ]
*Payload: 230 kg to 700 km, or 590 kg to 250 km
*Maximum flight height:
*Mass at launch:

Black Brant XII

*Four stages: The rocket consists of a Talos first stage, Taurus second stage, Black Brant V third stage and Nihka fourth stage. [ [ Capability Catalog - Black Brant XII ] ] [ [ Black Brant Sounding Rockets ] ] [ [ Black Brant Sounding Rockets ] ]
*Payload: manufacturer rated from 110 - 410 kg
*Maximum flight height: dependent on payload
*Mass at launch:


External links

* [ Black Brant Sounding Rockets]
* [ Black Brant entry in Encyclopedia Aeronautica]

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