South Australian Aviation Museum
Rockets in the Desert

SAAM is pleased to announce that we are working with the traditional owners of the Woomera Rocket Range Area in the preparation of a new Woomera (Rockets in the Desert) display. The History Trust of South Australia has approved a significant grant for this project. With additional funding from the museum itself we will see over the course of the next year some major changes happening at the museum which will enable us to present the story of the Woomera rocket range in a more coordinated, culturally inclusive, comprehensive and spectacular way.

The Woomera Rocket Range is one of the world's largest launch sites covering some 127,000 sq km, which is almost exactly the size of England. It was established to test long range weapons developed as part of the Anglo-Australia Joint Project. The area was declared a Prohibited Area in 1947 and the first military trial took place in December 1947.

Australian Department of Defence Link - History of the Woomera Prohibited Area
Wikipedia Link - Woomera Range Complex

SAAM Rockets in the Desert Display

The Aero High was a high altitude Upper Atmosphere Sounding Rocket produced by the Aerodynamics Dividion of the Weapons Research Establishment at Edinburgh. It used a Gosling 4 motor as the first stage and a vela motor as its second stage. It reached altitudes of up to 200km. It was used primarily between 1968 and 1972 to eject grenades at various heights, forming chemiluminescent glow clouds. These clouds were then photographed and tracked to study high level winds and other atmospheric parameters.
Skylark was an inexpensive and simple unguided solid-fuel rocket, developed by the Royal Aircraft Establishment in the U.K. It used a Raven long-burning (about 35 seconds) solid-fuel motor that provided less than 12G acceleration to protect the scientific instruments in the payload. During the 1960's and 1970's, over 400 skylarks were launched from Woomera carrying payloads for more than 20 universities and research institutions.
HAD (High Altitude Density) Sounding Rocket. Designed and produced by the Weapons Research Establishment. HAD used a Gosling boost motor with a Lapstar motor as its second stage. Its main use was to release a balloon after reaching its maximum altitude of 120km. These balloons were known as the falling sphere experiments.

Black Knight was a research ballistic missile designed to test re-entry vehicles for the much larger Blue Streak missile. SAAM has a scale model of the Black Knight.

SAAM has a Blue Steel Missile (in the outside yard adjacent to the carpark). For more information, click here.
Other Related Exhibits

SAAM's Jindivik did not see Woomera service but many Jindivik's were used at Woomera for a large range of tasks including target towing and cruise missile simulation.
See Also: GAF Jindivik N11-752
WK165 was built by AVRO at Woodford, UK, in February 1955 and delivered to the RAF in March 1955 and subsequently transferred to the RAAF. In March 1956, it was transferred to WRE Edinburgh Field for Air Trials Unit It was used for flying radar calibration and ranging tasks out of Woomera and Maralinga for many years. It was also used for airborne photography of weapons (including Operation Buffalo Atomic Bomb Tests).
See Also: Canberra B2 WK165
SAAM's Askania Kinetheodolite was manufactured in Germany by Askania-Werke AG. Several were brought to Woomera in 1949 and were installed on A Range in 1950. They were used to record the trajectory of missiles during trials on 35mm film at 4 frames per second. In 1953, they were used to track and record the trajectory of the experimental Blue Boar television guided missile
Waxwing was a British solid rocket motor used for apogee boost. It was ignited at the top of the trajectory to give the satellite extra boost to place it in orbit. It was the 3rd (upper) stage of the Black Arrow satellite launch vehicles. Waxwing was used to successfully place the Prospero X-3 satellite into low Earth orbit on 28 October 1971, Britain's only satellite launch on an indigenously-developed launch vehicle.
The X-Tracker Optical Missile Tracker was a combined electronic and optical instrument operated by one person sitting on a large steerable mounting. Using an elbow telescope, the operator kept a pair of crosswires aligned on the target via a joystick control that steered the tracker. The bearing and elevation were transmitted directly to Range Control via a data link. The X-Tracker (named after the firing range where it was used) was developed by Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera in the late 1950's. Six trackers were used along the firing range covering a distance of 160km.

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