Prospero/Black Arrow | Bristol’s involvement in Black Arrow and as Prime Contractor for Prospero and its payload

Date: 28 October 2021

Time: 15:00-16:00

Location: Crowdcast

After a tour of the Aerospace Bristol Exhibits with Stefanie Vincent, Terry Ransome will, with the aid of the Waxwing rocket motor, the second stage of the Black Arrow launch vehicle, and a full size model of the Prospero satellite, explain the role of the Bristol site, then a BAC, British Aircraft Corporation, in both the Black Arrow rocket and the Prospero satellite. He will then concentrate on the satellite and its payload.


Terry graduated from a student apprenticeship with the Marconi Company and Loughborough University in 1969, at the same time as Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. And, like many others, he wanted to work ‘in space’. After a year at Leicester under Professor Ken Pounds and armed with an MSc in Experimental Space Physics he started work in Spacecraft Assembly and Test with British Aircraft Corporation at Filton, Bristol in 1971. He was soon asked if he would like to ‘go to Australia and launch a rocket’! He said ‘yes’. That was Skylark SL812 which was followed by GEOS 1 and 2 launched from Cape Canaveral, and development testing work on the Photon Detector Assembly for the Hubble Telescope. Five years in the NASA Michoud facility in final acceptance testing of Space Shuttle External Tanks was followed by a return to Filton in 1986 and ‘office work’ on feasibility studies for Polar Platform, XMM Newton, Planck, and many others – not all of which made the selection for development. Meanwhile BAC had morphed into Matra Marconi Space.

In 1997, Terry was in the small team that helped Professor Colin Pillinger get his Beagle2 Mars Lander accepted by ESA, and then moved to Stevenage where Matra Marconi Space became Astrium, and he was soon back with Beagle2 as Assembly, Test and Launch Site Manager.

After launch, Terry was able to take early retirement, 2003, and found a new experience as a tour guide, trustee, and for three years as a volunteer Museum Manager at the British Schools Museum, Hitchin, Herts. Since 2016 Terry has been enjoying the best of both worlds at the Aerospace Bristol Museum, on the old familiar Filton airfield – initially building another Skylark for display, and currently as a Collections Research Volunteer.