Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Black Brant - a very successful Canadian rocket

Here in Canada it seems most people are really not aware of how significant a space faring nation this country is.   One example of this is the Black Brant family of rockets from Manitoba.   These rockets are the most successful  launch families of all time with about 1000 launches since 1962.

The Black Brant is designed and built by Bristol Aerospace, now Magellan Aerospace.   This company has been one of the serious aerospace successes of Canada but is still best know for not getting the contract to maintain the CF 18s in 1987.   The awarding of that contract to Canadair was a major source of western alienation in Canada as most people thought the contract with Bristol was a better one.

Normally people only think about the rockets that put either people or satellites into space but there is all manner of other research that can be done by launching into space and coming right back down again.   It is in this role that no other rocket does as well as the Canadian Black Brant.   The family of rockets ranges from ones that can launch from as small as 70 kg 150 km into space to as large as 850 kg 1500 km into space.

Could one use the Black Brandt to launch small satellites into low earth orbit?    The Black Brandt XII can reach 1500 kilometers into space which is more than high enough to get into low earth orbit.   This is equal to rockets like the Falcon 1e (SpaceX) or the Taurus (Orbital Sciences).   I would think with a record of 1000 launches there is a track record one could build from.   The only other rocket family that has launched a similar number of times is the Russian Soyuz rockets.

Most of the rockets are launched from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in the southern most part of the Chesapeake Bay but in the past had been launched from Canada.   It might be worth considering building a new launch facility here again and experimenting what might be possible.

Sounding rockets may not be the big names in aerospace but it is important.   As Canadians we should be aware of how much it is our country that is responsible for the success and that we are the equals of other space nations in the world.

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