Rockets End an Era: SkyLarks and Titans

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Britain ended an era with the launch of the 441st and final Skylark rocket. The rocket launched from Sweden and contains several experiments for the European Space Agency. This marks the end of nearly 50 years of British contributions to the exploration of space.

The Skylark program was started in the 50s in the middle of the cold war to compete with the Soviet Union and the United States. Britain, then a major innovator in air and space technologies, was stuck in the middle but the first Skylark, launched in 1957, met the challenge and much more.

“We should be immensely proud of the contribution to science that Skylark has made and it is a testament to the skill of British engineers that the program has lasted half a century,” Hugh Whitfield of Sounding Rocket Services Ltd., which has operated the Skylark vehicles since 1999, told the BBC.

The last Titan rocket also soared over Kennedy Space Center last Friday ending an 46 year hitch with NASA for the ballistic missile. The Titan flew over 150 missions including the legendary Gemini astronauts like Gus Grissom, Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell into space.

The final mission was a secret payload by the National Reconnaissance Office(NRO). The NRO takes care of the various spy satellites for the U.S.

These two rockets performed great services for their countries and mankind as a whole. The numerous manned and unmanned expeditions continue to benefit man in his quest to pioneer further and further.

The support personnel for the Titan mission are preparing to scour the want-ads for new jobs. Lockheed-Martin employed over 400 employees for the Titan program. 300 or so will be looking for in a couple of months and 125 more will leave the company when storage of the Titan facilities has been secured.

The demise of these rocket programs truly do end and era for those of us who grew up watching the space program develop into what it is today. The Skylark program wasn’t as publicized in the U.S., but it was still no less effective in the pursuit of science and knowledge.

To those of us in the science and tech industry in one form or another this stuff is why we have our jobs and we wish those crews and individuals who dared to dream and take our imaginations with them into space good luck and a well earned thank you.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Rockets End an Era: SkyLarks and Titans
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