Tammy Duffy

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Research Rockets at the Science and Technology Museum in Long Island, NY


There are the stories behind each research rocket



Black Brant (frequently abbreviated to BB) is the family name of a series of high-altitude sounding rockets designed by the Bristol of Canada company.


In 1960, Bristol of Canada received a Canadian government contract to build a new series of sounding rockets for scientific purposes. To cover a wide range of performance, Bristol designed three different vehicles: the Black Brant V was an improved Black Brant II, the Black Brant III was a scaled-down rocket for smaller payloads in the lower atmospheric regions, and the Black Brant IV was a two-stage rocket, using a BB V as first and a BB III as second stage.


The Black Brant III first flew in June 1962, but because of initial problems with stability and control, it took until April 1964 that the rocket was declared ready for operations. It was a spin-stabilized vehicle, which could lift a 18 kg (40 lb) payload to 178 km (110 miles). The Black Brant IIIB was externally identical to the BB III, but used a new high-efficiency propellant. A total of at least 66 rockets if the Black Brant III type were fired until the last one in May 1985, primarily by Canadian scientists. The U.S. Navy tested the BB III twice in 1963, but did not adopt it for regular use. However, four more BB IIIs were launched by the Naval Research Lab between December 1965 and February 1966 to measure solar X-ray and UV radiation.


Black  Brant IV: Was a small meteorological rocket created by Canada's Bristol Aerospace.   The Black Brant IV's first stage was a BB VB with smaller fins. The BB III of the second stage had no fins and a new tail section to provide a rocket nozzle optimized for exoatmospheric flight. The first BB IV was launched in June 1964, but this flight, as well as the following one, was unsuccessful because the stage separation (using differential drag after first stage burnout) didn't work as designed. The separation mechanism was redesigned, and the third flight in January 1965 was finally successful. When the high-performance BB IIIB was used as upper stage, the BB IV became the Black Brant IVB. More than 50 BB IV-type rockets were launched until 1981, and altitudes of up to 800 km (500 miles) were reached. The USAF launched 8 BB IVs between 1969 and 1976.



Black Brant VI: US Army rocket.  In 1967, Bristol of Canada received a U.S. Army development contract for a pair of small meteorological sounding rockets. The larger one became the Black Brant VI, while the smaller one was the Black Brant VII. The U.S. Army nomenclature for the BB VI was Weather Rocket, RDT&E, XM75. The BB VI's solid-propellant motor had a high initial thrust which gradually dropped until burnout. The four tail fins were canted to induce a stabilizing spin. At an apogee of about 75 km (47 miles), the nose cone was ejected, and a parachute opened under which the meteorological instrument package descended to the ground.


The BB VI was to be a cheap and reliable rocket. However, the development turned out to be much more costly than expected, and it took nearly 150 test firings by Bristol, before the U.S. Army accepted the XM75 rockets for its own evaluation. In the end, the Army abandoned the project in 1973 after only 7 launches, because the rockets were too expensive. A few BB VIs were eventually flown by Canadian scientists, the last one in April 1979.


Black Brant VIII: Sometimes called the Nike-Black Brant, this rocket combines a Nike booster with a Black Brant upper stage.

The Black Brant 8 (an arabic numeral appears to be favoured for this designation) was the combination of a BB V with a Nike booster. The Black Brant 8B had three fins on each stage, while the Black Brant 8C used four fins. The first flight of this model occurred in December 1975. More than 100 have been launched so far, and use of the BB 8C by NASA is continuing. The U.S. Air Force launched two BB 8Bs in September 1982 with ionosphere experiments, and two BB 8Cs in 1984 and 1987 with plasma experiment payloads.



Dauphin: This is a French solid-fueled sounding rocket;  The Dauphin Project was a team effort and it was a huge success. The 16.5 ft, 300lb rocket flew to an apogee of 5900 ft. and was successfully recovered a couple of hundred yards away from the launch tower. Discovery Channel Canada filmed the preparation and launch for a segment on the Daily Planet show which first aired on Sep 12, 2003.



Terrier-Nike: This rocket had a combination of missile boosters and was used to test some sort of recovery system




Black Brandt 8




Black Brandt 6


Whittle Arch/Black Brandt 4

Reseach rockets in Yosemite, Whittle Arch and Coombes Park!  Could this be true!

Go and see these drawings the the Long Island Science and Technology Museum