Black Arrow flight sequence programmer, c 1968.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This timing mechanism controlled the whole sequence of events during the entire launch of a Black Arrow vehicle up to and including initiation of a second timing device on the vehicle's third stage. It comprises three sections of cam-operated micro-switches, each section driven via individual clutches from a single electric motor. Black Arrow was designed in the 1960s to be Britain's satellite launch vehicle. 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.