X2 developmental satellite, c 1968.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Prototype model. The X2 satellite was to have been launched into orbit as 'Orba' by Britain's Black Arrow launch vehicles. Black Arrow R2 was launched from Woomera, South Australia on 2nd September, 1970. Unfortunately the second stage of the launcher developed insufficient thrust, and X2 failed to reach orbit. It splashed down in the ocean between Australia and New Guinea. The Black Arrow programme was cancelled in July 1971, but a final launch on 28th October 1971 succeeded in putting the X3 satellite, named 'Prospero', into orbit. This was the first and last launch of a British satellite by a British launch vehicle.