Skylark (rocket)

Skylark (rocket)

Skylark was a British sounding rocket design. The Skylark was first launched in 1957 from Woomera, Australia and its 441st and final launch took place from Esrange, Sweden on 2 May 2005.

The design first dates to 1955, when initial work was carried out by the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and the Rocket Propulsion Establishment at Westcott. The first vehicles were ready less than two years later, and sent for testing to Woomera during the International Geophysical Year. Skylarks were built in some numbers into the 1970s, until the UK government decided to end the programme in 1977, thinking that future "low weight" research would be carried out on the Space Shuttle instead. The programme was handed to British Aerospace, who later sold it to Matra Marconi Space, who in 1999 in turn sold it to a small private company, Sounding Rocket Services, based in Bristol.

The basic Skylark is convert|7.6|m|ft long, convert|0.44|m|in in diameter and has a fin span of convert|0.96|m|in. Booster stages can increase the height to convert|12.8|m|ft. The original version was propelled by convert|840|kg|lb of solid fuel, which enabled convert|45|kg|lb to be launched to an altitude of over convert|200|km|mi. Improvements were made to the engine and the use of a booster increased the payload to convert|200|kg|lb in 1960. Skylark 12, from 1976, could lift convert|200|kg|lb to convert|575|km|mi altitude.

Due to its small mass and low thrust, the original version of the Skylark had to be launched from a convert|25|m|ft tilting tower to overcome the effects of the wind. Later versions only required a simple trailer.

Skylark Rockets are on display in the following locations:
* University of Leicester, Department of Physics and Astronomy. (Skylark "Raven" (c. 1957))
* National Space Centre in Leicester. (Skylark "Goldfinch Raven")
* Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Surrey, England. (Skylark 7 (Goldfinch II, Raven XI))
* Rocketry Museum, Woomera, Australia (Skylark Nosecone only)

ee also

* Skylark launch tower

External links

* [ Skylark sounding rockets]
* [ BBC News article on final launch]

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