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. Each of the four pairs of combustion chambers could swivel in one plane. The image shows one being rocked from side to side. This capability enabled the rocket vehicle to be steered in pitch, roll and yaw. The Black Arrow R3 succesfully launched the Prospero satellite on October 28th 1971, although no further Black Arrows were launched.