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Since the dawn of time, mankind has looked to the stars and wondered what lies beyond that which we can see with the naked eye. Arguably, the most noble of mankind’s endeavours, the ‘space race’, has led to some of the most iconic, famous and awe inspiring images of the twentieth century. Whilst the achievements and exploits of the Soviets and Americans are well documented, the fascinating story of the British Space Programme is much less well known.
Beginning in 1962 with the launch of UK1, this fascinating archive-led documentary celebrates the three major British rocket projects of the 1960s: Black Knight, Blue Streak and Black Arrow. The high point was undoubtedly the successful Black Arrow launch which would succeed in orbiting the Prospero satellite, making the United Kingdom only the sixth nation to successfully place its own satellite into orbit via an indigenously developed carrier rocket. Ultimately, the production and development of British rockets would be abandoned, just as there was a tantalising possibility that Britain might establish itself as a major Aerospace Industrial nation with its own distinctive niche in the International Space Race.
To this day, the United Kingdom holds the somewhat dubious distinction of being the only country to have successfully developed its own satellite launch capability and space project, which was then completely abandoned. The successive cancellation of each and every initiative would come to be seen as a national scandal.
The Hotol Project (10 mins)
Archive news compilation detailing the cancelled Hotol project which, at one point, was expected to claim over 90% of the market for satellite launches with its pioneering and cost-effective horizontal take-off and landing capability.
The Beagle-2 Project (8 mins)
An overview of the Beagle-2 mission to Mars to search for signs of life; from initial government backing, through to the inquest into the final failure to receive any data back from the Red Planet.