Encyclopedia Astronautica
Black Knight


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The Black Knight was a British test vehicle designed to test re-entry vehicles for the Blue Streak MRBM. It was subsequently used for a series of US-sponsored test of RV radar signatures.

In July 1955 Sanders Roe was selected to build a rocket to test re-entry vehicle designs for the Blue Streak MRBM. The rocket was required to loft a 115 kg re-entry vehicle shape to an altitude of 800 km for re-entries at 5 km/sec. Two development launches and three RV tests were completed before the Blue Streak was cancelled in April 1960. However the vehicle continued in use in a new series of tests sponsored by the United States. These studied the radar signatures of RV's and their plasma trails, crucial in development of early warning and anti-ballistic missile systems. In order to reach the higher re-entry speeds of an ICBM, a Cuckoo second stage was added to the vehicle. This was mounted upside-down in order to accelerate the RV shape down into the atmosphere during descent. These flights were conducted in two series, code-named Gaslight and Dazzle.

The Gamma engines of the vehicle were manufactured by Bristol Siddley and used on both the Black Knight and Black Arrow launch vehicles. Propellants were High Test Peroxide and Kerosene. Black Knight used 4 chambers in two pairs on the Y and Z axes. The motors were gimballed to provide thrust in all axes. The Cuckoo second stage motor was manufactured at RPE Westcott.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Black Knight The Black Knight was a British test vehicle designed to test re-entry vehicles for the Blue Streak MRBM. It was subsequently used for a series of US-sponsored test of RV radar signatures. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Woomera After World War II British government recognized the need for a large range to test the incredible array of long-range missile systems then planned. After considering sites in Canada, it was decided that Australia would best meet the projected needs. The Long Range Weapons Establishment was created on 1 April 1947 as a joint British/Australian enterprise. 23 days later the name Woomera (an aboriginal word of axtlaxtl, or spear thrower) was selected for the new town to be built as its administrative center. Woomera town peaked at a population of 6,000 in the 1960's. Thereafter the progressive cancellation of British missile and space projects put Woomera went into sustained decline. However it played a key role in the history of rocketry, including orbital launches or launch attempts by Black Arrow, Sparta, and Europa boosters. More...

Black Knight Chronology


1958 September 7 - . 10:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5A. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201 BK.01.
  • Research and development test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 225 km (139 mi). Summary: Black Knight missile of the United Kingdom was launched from the Australian range at Woomera to an altitude of over 300 miles..

1959 March 12 - . 10:50 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5A. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201 BK.03.
  • Research and development test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 537 km (333 mi). Summary: Second British Black Knight rocket reached 350-mile altitude at Woomera, Australia..

1959 June 11 - . 13:03 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5A. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201 BK.04.
  • Research and development launch - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 803 km (498 mi).

1959 June 29 - . 11:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5A. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201 BK.05.
  • Research and development launch - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 442 km (274 mi).

1959 October 30 - . 11:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5A. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201 BK.06.
  • Research and development / Reentry Test / chemical release mission - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 732 km (454 mi).

1960 May 24 - . 11:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5A. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201/C. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201/C BK.08. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 563 km (349 mi).

1960 June 21 - . 10:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5A. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201/C. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201/C BK.09.
  • Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 484 km (300 mi).

1960 July 25 - . 11:54 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5A. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201 BK.07.
  • Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 531 km (329 mi).

1961 February 7 - . 12:46 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5A. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201 BK.13.
  • Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 687 km (426 mi).

1961 May 9 - . 12:07 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201/C. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201/C BK.14. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 415 km (257 mi).

1961 June 7 - . 11:20 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201/C. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201/C BK.17. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 583 km (362 mi).

1962 May 1 - . 13:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201 BK.15.
  • Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 795 km (493 mi).

1962 August 24 - . 11:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 301/C. LV Configuration: Black Knight-301/C BK.16.
  • Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 573 km (356 mi).

1962 November 29 - . 16:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 301/C. LV Configuration: Black Knight-301/C BK.18.
  • Gaslight Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 576 km (357 mi).

1963 October 17 - . 10:52 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201 BK.11.
  • Blue Streak test - . Nation: Europe. Agency: ELDO; RAE. Apogee: 527 km (327 mi).

1964 March 11 - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 201/C2. LV Configuration: Black Knight-201/C2 BK.12.
  • Dazzle re-entry vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 500 km (310 mi).

1964 August 5 - . 17:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 301/C2. LV Configuration: Black Knight-301/C2 BK.19.
  • Dazzle re-entry vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 602 km (374 mi).

1964 November 6 - . 13:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 301/C2. LV Configuration: Black Knight-301/C2 BK.20.
  • Dazzle re-entry vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 629 km (390 mi).

1965 April 21 - . 11:02 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 301/C2. LV Configuration: Black Knight-301/C2 BK.21.
  • Dazzle re-entry vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 651 km (404 mi).

1965 July 26 - . 17:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 301/C2. LV Configuration: Black Knight-301/C2 BK.23.
  • Dazzle re-entry vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 492 km (305 mi).

1965 September 28 - . 14:35 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 301/C2. LV Configuration: Black Knight-301/C2 BK.24.
  • Dazzle re-entry vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 605 km (375 mi).

1965 November 25 - . 13:20 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA5B. Launch Pad: LA5B?. LV Family: Black Knight. Launch Vehicle: Black Knight 301/C2. LV Configuration: Black Knight-301/C2 BK.25.
  • Dazzle re-entry vehicle test - . Nation: UK. Agency: RAE. Apogee: 632 km (392 mi).

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