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Prospero (X 3)


Prospero (or X-3) was a British scientific satellite launched from the Woomera site in Australia aboard a Black Arrow rocket.

It was used to conduct experiments to test the technologies necessary for communication satellites, such as solar cells, telemetry and power systems and carried a micrometeoroid detector to conduct a scientific experiment to measure the incidence of micrometeoroids. It had an external shape similar to a pumpkin, with an equatorial diameter of 1.2 m and a height of 0.7 m.

The satellite, originally been named Puck, was built by the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) in Farnborough. It was launched on the last flight of the Black Arrow rocket, making UK the sixth nation to place a satellite into orbit using a domestically developed carrier rocket. The Black Arrow's final stage collided with Prospero due to residual thrust, detaching one of the satellite's four radio antennas. The onboard tape recorder failed on 24 May 1973, but continue to work, until it was officially deactivated in 1996. Its anticipated orbital life is about 100 years.

A second satellite was built as a flight spare, but was not needed after the successful launch of the Prospero satellite. It has been donated to the Science Museum in London.

Nation: U.K.
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE)
Contractors: Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE)
Equipment: icrometeoroid detector
Configuration: Polyhedron
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Lifetime: 25 years (reached)
Mass: 66 kg
Orbit: 531 km × 1403 km, 82.0
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Prospero (X 3, ex Puck) 1971-093A 28.10.1971 Wo LA-5B Black Arrow
X 3 flight spare - cancelled Wo LA-5B Black Arrow
Further X missions: