UK Launching Sites for Black Arrow.

N. Sea launches Britain is not well situated geographically for satellite launching. Payloads can be boosted by firing the rocket in the same direction of the spin of the Earth: eastwards. But launching from Britain would mean that the spent rocket stages would fall on Europe. The only clear path would involve launches almost due north, into polar orbit, and two sites were considered. One was the existing rocket test site on the islands of North and South Uist, in the Hebrides, the other was on the north coast of Norfolk, near Brancaster. Uist was ruled out on grounds of inaccessibility and infrastructure. The flight paths are shown opposite - the second stage would impact close to the North Pole: north of the 85 degree parallel.

Norfolk looked quite promising until the penny dropped with someone. In the files in the Public Record Office you can see that people seem to be getting quite interested in the Norfolk site, until you come across a big brown envelope marked: "Urgent - by hand of courier" from the Ministry of Power. Inside was a chart of the North Sea with all the oil rig sites marked ... the chances of a spent first stage falling on an oil rig was minute - but given the consequences if one did, the proposal was dropped. It was back to Woomera.


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