Skylark (rocket)

Skylark (English skylark ) is the name of a historic British sounding rocket.


The Skylark was developed in 1955 as part of a British space program. In this initial period of development was comparable to American and Soviet missiles. The Skylark was very popular among young scientists, as it allowed, within three years to develop an experiment to perform and to graduate with the evaluation of the data. Since then, numerous experiments were performed with the Skylark.

Government promotion of the program, however, was the late 1970s deleted because it was believed that academic institutions would make their instruments rather bring by the space shuttle into space in the future. However, it was assumed here that the new U.S. space shuttle regular and very frequent flights would perform, so that would be enough space for long-term experiments. The Skylark program was first delivered to British Aerospace, then at Matra Marconi Space, until it found shelter in the small privately funded company Sounding Rocket Services. The Skylark flights were in 2005, 50 years after the start of the program, set. The operating company will use the American Oriole missiles then. These are slightly larger, more modern and have a greater payload, but are also more expensive.


The Skylark was 7.6 m long, had a diameter of 0.44 m and had a fin span of 0.96 m. It was powered by 840 kg solid propellant. To start the Skylark in the original version of a 50 meter high tower for guidance in the start-up phase was necessary, while later versions of this missile could be launched from a simple mount from.

The first Skylark was able to bring 45 kg to a height of 150 km. The last variant, Skylark 12, was built in 1976, was a three-stage rocket, and a payload of 200 kg could bring in 576 km height. The highest performed with a Skylark flight reached on September 3, 1988 even a height of 857 km. The versions Skylark 14 to 17 were planned, but were never produced.


The Skylark was first launched on 13 February 1957 by Woomera in Australia from. Until August 1987 followed by 263 further launches. Other starting points were:

  • Salto di Quirra (Italy ): 56 starts from July 1964 to November 1972
  • Kiruna (Sweden): 84 starts from March 1986 to May 2005
  • Aberporth (Wales ): 2 Starts January 1971 to July 1972
  • Villa Reynolds ( Argentina ): 2 starts in March 1973
  • El Arenosillo (Spain ): 9 Starts from October 1973 to July 1976
  • Andøya (Norway ): 22 starts from October 1973 to December 1988
  • Natal (Brazil): 3 starts from October 1979 to September 1988

The 442nd and last flight was on May 2, 2005 by Esrange started ( Sweden) from. It consisted of a Skylark 7 and brought two biological and three physical experiments with 250 kg payload on a suborbital path in up to 250 km altitude.