Encyclopedia Astronautica
Europa



europalo.jpg
Europa LV
Europa launch vehicle
Credit: ESA
Europe's first space launcher. The first stage was a British Blue Streak IRBM, the second stage the French Coralie, and the third stage the German Astris. All orbital launch attempts failed due to unreliability of the third stage. The project was cancelled after withdrawal of British support and replaced by the Ariane.

The first pan-European attempt to develop its own launch vehicle capability was done under the auspices of ELDO - the European Launcher Development Organisation. The already-developed but-cancelled British MRBM, the Blue Streak, would be the first stage. France would develop the second stage, Germany the third stage, Italy the nose fairing, and Holland and Belgium tracking systems. Non-European Australia was allowed to be a member in exchange for use of the Blue Streak launch facilities at Woomera.

The plan was for the Europa launcher to be tested in three phases:

  • Phase 1 would consist of three flights of the Blue Streak only. These would test the Blue Streak modifications and some guidance/tracking/telemetry systems. These suborbital tests would be launched northwest to an impact zone near Talgarno in Western Australia. These initial tests were successful.
  • Phase 2 would consist of three suborbital flights of the three-stage vehicle. These would begin with only the Blue Streak being active, with the other stages being dummies to test the aerodynamic configuration. Then an active second stage would be added, then an active third stage. These would be launched northerly to an impact area in the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory.
  • Phase 3 involved four northerly launches into orbit. These were to bring the vehicle to operational status by 1970.

In the event, after the three Blue Streak-only tests, the rest of the project was a disaster. While the Blue Streak remained reliable, the second or third stage failed on every subsequent test. A fourth Phase 2 launch was made in order to compensate for the failures. The final attempt, using a four-stage Europa-II configuration, brought the curtain down on the program.

The British government had lost interest in the project, and the unaugmented Blue Streak offered limited possibilities for vehicle growth. With British interest waning, the launch site had already been moved to French Guiana. After some death throes, the British virtually abandoned spaceflight work, and ELDO was folded. The French led a new pan-European project to develop the very successful Ariane commercial launch vehicle.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Spacecraft
  • STV European technology satellite. 3 launches, 1968.11.29 (STV 1) to 1970.06.12 (STV 3). Satellite Test Vehicle. More...
  • STV 4 French technology satellite. One launch, 1971.11.05. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • ELDO A European orbital launch vehicle. Three stage version of the Europa vehicle. More...
  • Europa European orbital launch vehicle. Europe's first space launcher. The first stage was a British Blue Streak IRBM, the second stage the French Coralie, and the third stage the German Astris. All orbital launch attempts failed due to unreliability of the third stage. The project was cancelled after withdrawal of British support and replaced by the Ariane. More...
  • Cora European orbital launch vehicle. Cora was an experimental rocket to test the second and third stages of the Europa launch vehicle. More...
  • Europa II European orbital launch vehicle. Four stage version of the Europa vehicle, adding a P068 fourth stage. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Hammaguira The constellation of launch complexes and nuclear weapons test sites established by France in Algeria began with the Special Weapons Test Center (CIEES). This began operations at Colomb-Bechar, Algeria, on April 24, 1947. Development of the larger Veronique series required a new facility. This went into operation at Hammaguir, 120 km southwest of Colomb-Bechar, in May 1952. The evacuation of these launch sites was a condition of the final agreement signed in March 1962 that ended the Algerian Civil War. The sites continued in use until finally turned over to the Algerian government on 1 July 1967. French missile test activities moved to Biscarosse, in France, and orbital launches to Kourou, in French Guiana. Hammaguira was known to have been used for at least 271 launches from 1952 to 1967. More...
  • 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...
  • Biscarosse In April 1962 France signed the final agreements with Algeria, requiring them to evacuate their rocket test ranged there by July 1967. Three months later a site on French soil on the Bay of Biscay, at Landes, near Biscarosse, was selected. The site would allow the testing of missiles over the Atlantic out to a range of 3000 km. This would put the RV impact area near the Azores, and a tracking station was opened in October 1966 on Flores island. More...
  • Kourou After the agreement with newly independent Algeria for France to evacuate their launch sites in that country, a location near Biscarosse was selected for French missile testing. However since only launches westwards across the Bay of Biscay could be made from this site, it was unsuitable for France's Diamant orbital launch vehicle. After reviewing 14 potential sites, a location in the South American French colony of Guiana was selected. This would allow over-water launches to a tremendous range of possible orbital inclinations -- from -100.5 deg to 1.5 deg. Being near the equator, it would provide the maximum assist from the earth's rotation for launches into equatorial orbits. The decision was formalized in April 1964 and in July 1966 ELDO chose the site for future launches of the Europa II launch vehicle. More...

Europa Chronology


1961 January 30 - . LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa.
  • Europa conference. - . Nation: Europe. Summary: Conference of 12 European nations held at Strasbourg to discuss a British and French proposal for a European satellite launcher development program..

1961 November 3 - . Launch Site: Woomera. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa.
  • Woomera selected for Europa launches. - . Nation: Europe. Summary: Nine-nation Western European Conference in London announced decision to launch a satellite in mid-1965, using a British Blue Streak first stage, a French Veronique second stage, and a West German third stage, from the Woomera range in Australia..

1966 May 23 - . 23:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA6A. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa. LV Configuration: ELDO A F-4.
  • Active first stage with dummy upper stages and satellite. and satellite. Flight terminated after 136 seconds. - . Nation: Europe. Agency: ELDO. Apogee: 86 km (53 mi).

1966 November 14 - . 20:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA6A. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa. LV Configuration: ELDO A F-5.
  • Active first stage with dummy upper stages and satellite. Flight successful. - . Nation: Europe. Agency: ELDO. Apogee: 120 km (70 mi).

1966 November 27 - . Launch Site: Hammaguira. Launch Complex: Hammaguira Beatrice. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Cora. LV Configuration: Cora G1. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: France. Agency: CNES. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1966 December 18 - . 09:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Hammaguira. Launch Complex: Hammaguira Beatrice. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Cora. LV Configuration: Cora G2.
  • - . Nation: France. Agency: CNES. Apogee: 55 km (34 mi). Summary: Only completely successful test..

1967 August 4 - . 03:53 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA6A. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa. LV Configuration: Europa I F-6/1. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Active first and second stages with dummy third stage and satellite. - . Nation: Europe. Agency: ELDO. Apogee: 180 km (110 mi).

1967 October 25 - . Launch Site: Biscarosse. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Cora. LV Configuration: Cora G3. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: France. Agency: CNES. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1967 December 4 - . 21:01 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA6A. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa. LV Configuration: Europa I F-6/2. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Active first and second stages with dummy third stage and satellite. - . Nation: Europe. Agency: ELDO. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1968 November 29 - . 23:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA6A. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa. LV Configuration: Europa I F-7. FAILURE: Third stage exploded.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • STV 1 / Europa F-7 - . Mass: 249 kg (548 lb). Nation: Europe. Agency: ELDO. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: STV. Decay Date: 1968-11-30 . COSPAR: F681129A. Apogee: 230 km (140 mi). Summary: First attempt by ELDO to launch a satellite to orbit. Satellite Test Vehicle payload..

1969 July 2 - . 22:55 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA6A. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa. LV Configuration: Europa I F-8. FAILURE: Third stage failed.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Europa F-8 / STV 2 - . Payload: STV 2. Nation: Europe. Agency: ELDO. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: STV. COSPAR: F690702A. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1970 June 12 - . 01:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Woomera. Launch Complex: Woomera LA6A. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa. LV Configuration: Europa I F-9. FAILURE: Payload fairing failed to separate.. Failed Stage: S.
  • Europa F-9 / STV 3 - . Nation: Europe. Agency: ELDO. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: STV. Decay Date: 1970-06-12 . COSPAR: F700612A. Apogee: 2,000 km (1,200 mi).

1971 November 5 - . 13:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELA1. Launch Pad: CECLES. LV Family: Europa. Launch Vehicle: Europa II. LV Configuration: Europa II F-11. FAILURE: Structural failure of third stage. Guidance signals were reversed.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Europa F-11 / STV 4 - . Nation: Europe. Agency: ELDO. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: STV 4. Decay Date: 1971-11-05 . COSPAR: F711105A. Apogee: 27 km (16 mi).

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