Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Cursing a Blue Streak

Also a Black Knight, a Blue Steel, a Black Arrow... Videos of the UK Space Programme.

This and much more at A Vertical Empire, the story of the UK Space Programme from 1950-1971.

And as an added bonus, have a look at the Victor Incident story over at the Blue Steel Developers page.

I was only a small child at the time, but in my early career 25 years ago I had the privilege of working with some of the engineers who'd worked on these projects.

Wikipedia gives an incomplete guide to UK Cold War Project Names. Some examples:
# Blue Water - air to surface missile
# Brown Bunny - see Blue Peacock
# Green Bamboo - nuclear weapon
# Green Cheese - nuclear anti-ship missile
# Green Flax - SAGW (Surface-to-Air Guided Weapon) - surface to air missile - see Yellow Temple
# Green Granite - nuclear weapons - Green Granite (small) & Green Granite (large)
# Green Light - SAGW - surface to air missile - see Short Sea Cat
# Green Mace - anti-aircraft gun
# Green Palm - airborne voice channel jammer
# Green Satin - airborne Doppler navigation radar unit


Bruce said...

Good for you. Engineering, what an amazing neglected science - rarely discussed in the popular media yet essential to our world.

'only a child at the time' - metaphorically?

I'm a space nut too, started school the year John Glenn orbited the earth. The dream seems faded now, though - space is a much more inhospitable place than we thought.

Zoe Brain said...

Not metaphorically, actually. Much of the work was done in the 60's, and I can still remember when a tank transporter carrying a "Blue Steel" under a tarpaulin broke down outside our house.

There were the escorting MPs trying to keep everything hush-hush, and an 8 year old kid made a nuisance of themselves commenting on it to all nearby.

See a previous post, though some of the wording is now obsolescent.

I'm 30 - but only in hexadecimal. I was conceived before sputnik was launched (just). I was almost 4 when Glenn flew.

In the early 80's, I worked alongside some engineers who'd been involved in the development 20 years earlier. Even worked alongside a US veteran of "Dublya Dublya Eye Eye", and a former captain of a Matador cruise missile unit.

And I wrote my first lines of FORTRAN II in 1966, to run on the Harwell Nuclear Research Lab's "Pegasus" computer. Just a few lines to "help" my father. But it impresses the heck out of my students when I tell them :)

Anonymous said...

Zoe, you ARE the mutt's nuts! Engineering is my B choice of occupations if I ever get my finger out and get me some qualifications. It's why I joined the MOD once I figured out, at the tender age of 32, what I wanted to do with my life. I was bitterly disappointed that they couldn't support such a radical quest, so if I ever get to the point where I have that BSc obtained through the OU it'll be a big "up yours, I'm off to the private sector!" Mind you I may have left things a bit late, might have to write about that propulsion system that I'm destined to invent instead :-)

Zoe Brain said...

Jane, as I've found out, it's never too late. Go for it, Gal! Seriously, anyone who has the fortitude that you've shown can do this.
I know it all seems so hard, a million tiny roadblocks in the way, but you're capable of it.

Heck, I'm doing a PhD after 26 years in Industry. There's places like Brunel that are fabulous for Engineering, and some institutions even offer courses over the Internet. That's how I got my Masters, the first time I stepped on campus was at my graduation.

You can do it. And invent a propulsion system too.

wfzimmerman said...

This reminds me of Alistair Maclean's excellent thriller novel, BLACK SHRIKE (the US title).