Black Knight (rocket) Test Site

Black Knight was a British launch vehicle to test and verify the design of a re-entry vehicle for the Blue Streak missile.

The United Kingdom’s first indigenous rocketry project, Black Knight was manufactured by Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight, had its engines tested at The Needles and was launched at Woomera in Australia.

Designed in 1955 by the Royal Aircraft Establishment and Saunders-Roe, 22 vehicles were fired between 1958 and 1965.

The Gamma rocket engines were designed and built by Armstrong-Siddeley at Anstey, near Coventry. One of the men who designed the engine was C. Donald.

The first two vehicles were ‘proving rounds’ – that is, launches without a payload in order to prove the design of the rocket. The third firing carried a re-entry vehicle. This flight showed that the chosen design for the re-entry body was a success.

Further firings with different heads showed up some unusual phenomena, and further tests under the code names Gaslight and Dazzle were carried out in conjunction with the United States.

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