Prospero (satellite)

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Type: Research satellite
Country: United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Operator: RAE
COSPAR-ID : 1971-093A
Mission dates
Dimensions: 66 kg
Size: Diameter 1.2 m, height 0.7 m
Begin: October 28, 1971, 04:09 UTC
Starting place: Woomera , LA5B
Launcher: Black Arrow R-3
Status: in orbit
Orbit data
Rotation time : 107 min
Orbit inclination : 82 °
Apogee height 1403 km
Perigee height 531 km

Prospero (also X-3 ) is the name of the only satellite launched with a British launch vehicle ( Black Arrow type ) . The satellite was developed in the "Royal Aircraft Establishment" in Farnborough in the 1960s. It was launched on October 28, 1971 in Woomera ( Australia ) and circles the earth on an orbit inclined by 82 degrees. Its perigee has an altitude of 531 kilometers and its apogee of 1403 kilometers.

The 66 kilogram satellite, which orbits the earth today, carried out measurements of the frequency of micro meteorites . Until 1973 the satellite provided the data from the experiments carried out. After that he was only contacted once a year until 1996. Radio amateurs were last able to receive the signal from the satellite in 2000.

The British government announced the stop of the space project three months before it was launched. This also had an impact on the naming. Originally the satellite was supposed to be called "Puck" after the tricky elf from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night 's Dream . Ultimately, he was called "Prospero" after the main character in Shakespeare's Storm . It is a magician who flees from a deadly intrigue on a barely seaworthy boat, ends up stranded on an island and from there ensures justice.

In 1995 the responsible state company Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAe) was absorbed into the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), which was split up again in 2001. In 2011, several students from the Mullard Institute for Space Science at University College London attempt to reactivate the satellite after 40 years. However, much of the technical data that would help reactivation has been lost. The important contact codes were found more or less by chance on a piece of paper in the British National Archives in London.

Individual evidence

  1. a b Space junk should spark again ,, September 11, 2011
  2. ^ Richard Hollingham: Plan to revive 1970s UK satellite. BBC, September 5, 2011, accessed September 8, 2011 .

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