Black Arrow

Scale 1:96 Published: November 9,  2010

Right click to download:
Modelsheet (480 KB)
Instruction (1.2 MB)
Stand (170 KB) 


Paper model of Black Arrow rocket

Detailed scale model of Black Arrow rocket

Black arrow waxwing stage with satellite


In October 28, 1971 Britain launched the Prospero satellite using a Black Arrow R-3 launch vehicle. It was the first successful British satellite launcher - and it was the last. The program was canceled. The fourth Black Arrow rocket (R4) is exhibited a the science museum in London.

In 1963 the Royal Aircraft Establishment began work on a satellite launcher based on the Black Knight test-vehicle. The Black Arrow had a first stage with eight gamma 8 engines. A second stage with two gamma 2 engines and solid 3 stage "Waxwing". The Black Arrow was only capable of launching smaller satellites.

The Black Arrow program was canceled on economic grounds, instead the US Scout rocket, which had a similar payload capacity was used for future launches.

The Prospero satellite is still in orbit, and radio signals could still be heard until 2006. It is expected to be in orbit for about 100 years.


Black Arrow was launched again 40 years later

In 2011 Chris Armstrong turned my paper model into a 1:13 model and launched as a celebration for the 40th anniversary of the Black Arrow R3 flight that placed the Prospero satellite in orbit.  

He launched it at the same spot, where the orinal Black Arrow rocket engines were tested at Highdown on the Isle of Wight.  

One of the original engineers assisted Chris with the launch.


See photos from the launch here

Watch the rocket launch at Youtube


Books and other sources:

My own photos from Science Museum, London
The Black Arrow rocket by Douglas Millard 

Rockets of the world by Peter Alway,

Brian Harvey, Europes Spaceprogramme to ariane and beyond - Black Arrow

wikipedia - Black Arrow

Joe Myerscough - Once we had a rocket