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Above: SL1183 is fired
at Aberporth on the Welsh coast, Thursday 20 July 1972
Below: The 1/10th scale launcher model held by the Science Museum
(Science Museum London collection, object
SL1183 was a proving launch from Aberporth in Wales, used to test a new
single rail transportable launcher designed by BAC and constructed by RAE
Farnborough. The launcher was designed for use in the forthcoming Skylark
Earth observation programme, in particular the 1973 Argentine exercise,
see SL1182 and SL1181. SL1183 was the second and final Skylark to be
launched in the UK.
Preparation: The BAC/RAE transportable launcher was developed to
provide a cheaper solution than the general purpose transportable launcher
developed by MAN in Germany, which had been tested by the previous
Aberporth Skylark launch in January 1971. (Skylark LT.1). Reference (ii)
provides an excellent account and some rare photographs of the
At the same time as the
original was being constructed, RAE apprentices made a fine one tenth
scale model, see also reference (ii). This model (shown bottom right) is
currently (2016) in the London Science Museum's 'small objects' storage
facility at Blythe House in London, object 1993-2297.
Flight: As for its predecessor (LT.1), in order to limit its
range, SL1183 was powered only by a Goldfinch II boost motor, the dummy
payload being of concrete. Thus the powered part of the flight would have
lasted only some 3.6 seconds.
Recovery: The vehicle would have landed in the sea
(Cardigan Bay) a kilometre or two downrange, and there was no recovery.
The proving test appears to have
been successful, as the new launcher was used the following year in
Argentina. However it did have one teething problem, as the original screw
and nut lifting mechanism tended to seize, and a hydraulic version was
designed to replace it.
After the Aberporth proving test, and before being
used in Argentina, the launcher was displayed at the SBAC Farnborough
Airshow in September 1972.
'Britain's First Space Rocket' book: page 426.
(ii) Vincent, Len (2016), 'The Skylark Transportable
Launcher', Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Association Autumn newsletter
#46 2016, pp.20-22.
(iii) The author has a short video clip of the launch of SL1183, currently
available as an email attachment, please contact
(iv) Flight International Magazine, 10 August 1972, p.218.