BRITAIN'S FIRST SPACE ROCKET

The story of the Skylark


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 1958 April 17
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A temperature profile for the upper atmosphere derived by combining US and Woomera results. (The White Sands results were from 1950-53, the Guam and Australian ones from 1958 during the IGY.)  (Stroud (1975) figure 3)

Summary: Although some scientific experiments had been flown on SL04 the previous November, SL07 was Skylark's first flight for primarily scientific purposes, and thus it initiated the Skylark operational programme. The payload comprised three university experiments and one set of instruments from the RAE.

Preparation:  As preparations for SL07 had proceeded without problem, and SL05 had been delayed, SL07 was launched before SL05, and so was the sixth Skylark to be launched.

Flight: The apogee of 153 km (95 miles) was 20% more than SL04, resulting in SL07 becoming the second British rocket to reach space.

Recovery: As yet, parachute recovery had not been introduced, and the neutral atmosphere observations were made from the ground, where the ground network had been upgraded with new pre-amplifiers using the latest invention - the transistor. 

Results: The UCL and Imperial College neutral atmosphere experiments (using grenades and window/chaff respectively) to measure temperature and wind variation with altitude were successful, but Birmingham's attempt to measure electron concentration in the ionosphere only partially so - although full success would be achieved when repeated on SL09 in June.

Hence Skylark immediately allowed British scientists to contribute to international class IGY research on the upper atmosphere; for instance the Woomera upper atmosphere temperature profiles were correlated with similar American results from White Sands and Guam, to help develop international standard models of the atmosphere.

More:
Brand, R. H. (2014), Britain's First Space Rocket, pp.111-114.

                       New Forest Electronics Tel. +44 (0) 1425 650089                 Issue 3.91    23rd August 2021