​​Satellite Spotting & Operations Handbook

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Almost everyone on Earth knows that the Soviet Union launched the first satellite and that the USA were second to enter the Space Age. But who was third? Great Britain built a rocket known as the Black Arrow; built and tested on the Isle of Wight. It was then transported along with an all British satellite called Prospero to Australia. From the rocket testing grounds of Woomera, the almost flameless engine launched perfectly and made Britain the third nation to build and launch its own satellite back in 1971. Even today the satellite is still transmitting data but nobody is listening as newer satellites are producing the same but more thorough and detailed data.

Prospero and the British space program

Rocket scientist Mike Elliott (left) and Pete Bassett, Author (Right).

The hold-down bolts for the Black Arrow engine tests at Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight. A dedicated on site museum is staffed by volunteers. Just turn up at Alum Bay, and walk to the top of the hill to the far left toward the 'Old Battery.' Then follow the road round to the far side of the hill and you can't miss it!