Gamma 8 rocket engine, 1964-1971.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Black Arrow was designed in the 1960s to be Britain's satellite launch vehicle. A Gamma 8 engine (an eight combustion-chambered design that burned kerosene in hydrogen peroxide) propelled the first of its three stages. Its design drew heavily on that of the Gamma engines of the Black Knight ballistic test vehicles and the Stentor engine of the Blue Steel stand-off bomb. After testing, the Black Arrow R3 succesfully launched the Prospero satellite on October 28th 1971, but by then the remainder of the programme had been cancelled by the government, and no further Black Arrows were launched. The engine is being examined by a curator prior to being photographed for a Science Museum book on the Black Arrow Rocket.