Black Knight

The Black Knight rocket was the United Kingdom’s first expendable launch project and served as a test vehicle used to study the effects resulting from re-entry to the atmosphere at high speed. The resulting data and lessons learned would be applied to the design of the war head of the Blue Streak missile although the scope of research was widened after the Blue Streak program was cancelled.

Saunders Roe, based in the Isle of Wight, were awarded the contract for building Black Knight vehicle. The original four chamber motor was based on the Gamma motor developed at the Rocket Propulsion Establishment at Westcott, Buckinghamshire.

On the 7th September 1958 the first Black Knight Rocket (BK01) was launched from Woomera in Australia, reaching an altitude of 140 miles. In the following years there were 21 further launches with the last occurring on 25th November 1965. There was a total of 22 firings of the Black Knight with some vehicles having never flow (BK02, BK10, BK22).

BK02 was used for structural tests at Saunders Roe and is on display at the Royal Museum Connect Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland.

BK10 was a backup vehicle for BK11. It is on display at the World Museum in Liverpool.

BK22 was also a BK11 backup but was never completed.


Black Knight on Wikipedia

The Needles – Rocket & Missile Development



Once We Had A Rocket  Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

The British Space Race BBC 2004 Part 1  Part 2

British Pathé: Woomera: Black Knight into Space