Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Space Race - the British Qualifying Heats
This is High Down, on the Isle of Wight, the site of the British foray into the space race. It is the rocket testing site, now just concrete and ghosts. It's an evocative place, managed, today, by the National Trust. You have to use a bit of imagination to picture the gantries and bunkers and the smell of kerosine rocket fuel. This is a place with a short history. The Black Arrow rockets were built in East Cowes before being brought here for testing, then transported all the way Australia, to Woomera, for firing. The fourth launch placed the satellite, Prospero, into orbit. It was the first and only British satellite launched on a British rocket. Just days after the successful flight the British government, with remarkable economic savvy still much in evidence to this day, pulled the plug, there being "no commercial value" in launching satellites into orbit.