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Blue Streak (Launching Project)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Aviation – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd June 1964.

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Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Preston North 12:00 am, 3rd June 1964

In suggesting that we should be worried about these postponements, the hon. Gentleman entirely misunderstands the nature of rocket development. The Black Knight programme, about which a great deal less has been said, encountered a great many difficulties of this kind. The first two Atlases blew up on the pad in the United States, and so did the first Thor. The kind of difficulties we have encountered so far have been weather for the best part of last week and two minor defects in the electronic components. There has been no question of any failure of the test, and I am personally confident that the test will show, and show quite soon, that the Hawker Siddeley-Rolls Royce designs are valid and that the telemetric and radar observation facilities at Woomera are valid.

The hon. Gentleman will realise that one of the reasons why the rocket has not been launched over the past weeks is not that it could not be but that, with the cloud cover as it was, it was not possible to follow the rocket in all its phases, and the value of the test would be greatly reduced unless we had absolutely clear sky for the occasion. We had absolutely clear sky yesterday. I was there. We thought that it would go off, and the test went down to 3 seconds count-down, but, as I have said, a minor electronic defect postponed it. I know of no basic reason why it should not work next week, but time alone will show whether I am right or not.

As to the morale of our scientists, I was with them on the spot yesterday. It remains extremely high.