Forty years ago Britain had an important
space rocket programme. Three separate vehicles were being built
- Blue Streak - the missile for delivering atomic warheads to Russia,
Black Knight and Black Arrow rockets.
Whilst development went on, a search
began for a possible
launch site and the North Norfolk coast made the shortlist.
three top sites were the Outer Hebrides, Woomera in Australia and
Brancaster at North Norfolk.
Brancaster was chosen as the launch
site as it was believed the North Sea would provide the rockets
a clear run.
Brancaster was also close
enough for the important centres in the British Space Industry at
Hatfield, Stevenage and London.
A map showing plans for the launch site
top secret plans dating back to 1966 show the flight path of the
rockets. The plans have only recently been released to the public.
But Brancaster spaceport never happened.
Each rocket would have most likely
shed at least two stages during their flight into space.
As oil rigs slowly spread across the
North Sea it was considered a very small, but still unacceptable
risk to launch rockets overhead.
There were also ideas to make Brancaster
the home for a spaceplane that could spy on the Russians.
But developments in technology and
the satellite meant the spaceport never happened.
By Sheila McKeown, a librarian at the Millennium Library in
Escape from Earth, by Peter Ackroyd. Dorling
Kindersley 2003. ISBN 1405300337.
Space Travel by Stuart Atkinson. Chrysalis
2003. ISBN 184138772x.
You can get hold of these books through
your local library.