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British startup rocket company wants to recover only satellite launched by UK

Capitalism in space: Skyrora, a British startup rocket company which is attempting to build the first rocket using hypersonic technology, has now issued a challenge to the commercial space industry to come up with a plan to snatch from orbit the only satellite ever launched by a rocket built by the United Kingdom and bring it back safely to Earth.

Edinburgh-based rocket company Skyrora is issuing a challenge to find a way to retrieve the Prospero satellite. The object was the first and only UK spacecraft to be launched on a British rocket, from Australia in 1971. It’s defunct now, obviously, but is still circling the globe on an elliptical orbit some 1,000km up.

Skyrora, who will soon start sending up rockets from Scotland, regards the satellite as an important piece of UK space heritage. The company has already recovered part of the Black Arrow vehicle that placed Prospero in orbit. This fell back to Australia in the course of the mission where it languished for decades in the Outback until the firm had it shipped home and put on display.

Now, Skyrora is looking for ideas as to how best to approach and grab hold of the 66kg satellite, whose original mission was to investigate the space environment.

After that single successful launch of Black Arrow, the British government decided to abandon it, and in fact for the next half century refused to invest any money in space, at all. While the decision was probably economically wise for the government, it also did not do anything to encourage a private space industry, and for the next half century there was none in the UK. This is now finally changing, but fortunately not as a government space program like Black Arrow but as a competitive private launch industry aimed at profit.

Recovering Prospero would be a nice public relations stunt that might help further encourage that private industry.

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Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

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5 comments

  • Jay

    Very cool! I always wondered about capturing old satellites to be displayed in the NASM. Vanguard 1 is still in orbit and it was launched in 1958.

  • Matt in AZ

    I believe the current plan for Hubble is to deorbit after decommissioning. I would prefer that it would instead be boosted to a higher emptier orbit, to allow for some future recovery.

  • wayne

    “Once We Had A Rocket: The Story of Britain’s Satellite Launcher”
    https://youtu.be/VVg_RMMQ4Jg
    8:38

  • It has always been curious to me, that the British, whom one popular TV presenter claims ‘invented everything’, have been so remarkably absent in spaceflight. If there were a people that could make a mark, the sons and daughters of the British Isles are them. Americans stand on the shoulders of the British, and a great boost that is.

    It seems as if the innovative nature of the people is actively thwarted by their own government (Nice observation; Captain Obvious). Why? Is there such a fear of success?

  • wayne

    “Equinox: A Very British Bomb”
    William Penney and the British Atomic Bomb Program
    https://youtu.be/Qk_zpjK3cTo
    49:13

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