Did you know there was a modern space race?
It's happening right now as companies and individuals pick up where government and big organisations have left off. I'm Paul Williams and we are a startup company called Black Arrow Space Technologies Ltd and we are in the process of putting the UK back into space.
Potential Black Arrow Rocket Design
I’m Paul Williams, Managing Director of Black Arrow Space Technologies Ltd who, with a team of space, aerospace and Formula 1 professionals, are in the process of developing a UK built space launch capability.
Our rockets will be the first produced wholly in the UK for 50 years, but before we start building the launch vehicles (rockets) and taking satellites and a whole host of other things into space; we need to develop an engine that will accomplish all this.
Building the Goldfinch 3
We need your help to make the first concept engine!
The Goldfinch 3 concept engine will combine Liquid Oxygen (LOx) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for fuel which will lead to more efficient and less complex fuel tank and turbo-pump designs. It is a cost effective and readily available fuel source to propel vehicles into space. LNG's lack of soot or carbon build-up when operated with LOx, means cleaner combustion and less pollutants. LNG is comparatively more dense meaning smaller fuel tanks can be used, it is generally cleaner meaning less refining, easier to transport than other fuels and less is lost at high altitude. There are many other advantages that this system offers, some we will only find out during the concept engine design stages...
Keep following us to find out exactly what makes it so special as we will update the crowdfunding page regularly.
We have a solid development team with plenty of experience behind us, everyone from Aerospace experts to Formula 1 materials specialists. We are going to build this concept engine at the historic Westcott Venture Park - this is the place much of the UK's space rocket development and testing has taken place and we want to continue where they left off. There are people there who worked on our earliest rocket engines and their knowledge is essential to helping us design and build this engine.
We'd like you to join us in designing, building and being among the first people to see the live firing of a space rocket engine...
Above is a live firing test of a rocket engine (original author unknown).
We already have a team in place ready to start development as soon as the funds are in. With everything that the UK is going through right now, we need to show the world we can still compete.
Become part of the space race and join us on this journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why develop a new engine?
Many different fuel combinations have been used over the years: some have been relatively simple and some highly complex and expensive. What Black Arrow has done is to analyse the cheapest way of getting sufficient levels of thrust, without overcomplicating our system designs. So, the selected combination is not the most powerful, but it is a less complex, safer and more cost-effective way of meeting our operational targets.
What fuels are to be used and why?
Liquid Oxygen (LOx) is a cheap, well-known and readily available oxidiser and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a relatively new fuel becoming more popular in many sectors. Both are cryogenic in nature and are therefore, perfectly suited, with many similarities in handling and logistics aspects.
What will it look like?
The Proof of Concept engine will be a simple setup, with inlet valves, an injector plate, a chamber and a nozzle, like other liquid engines, and, from the outside will look like a tube. The cryogenic propellants cause frost to appear on feed lines from tanks. The plume, however, will appear as other engines.
How will it aid Black Arrow?
The Proof of Concept engine will be the first step to understanding the design approach and defining the materials required for the flight engines. It will help us create models to predict performance and enable us to model the effects of the engines' performance on our systems. This engine may well have a commercial application too, so it's not just a test-bed.
The design of the injector and chamber/nozzle assembly, then the inlet valves and other chamber equipment. In the meantime, we will select materials and locate suppliers for all external items. Once the design is complete, we'll manufacture parts and perform bench tests to ensure designs are sound before introducing fuels.
Why Goldfinch 3?
The solid engines on a highly successful UK launch vehicle, Skylark, were called Goldfinch and numbered up to 2C, before the final launch in 2005. The engines were tested at Westcott. John Goldfinch was a fervent supporter of Black Arrow and also a member of the launch team in the 60's and 70's, was a past colleague of the MD, and the engine name is re-kindled in his memory, with kind permission of his family.