§ Mr. Dalyell
asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the postponement of the launching of the Europa F7 at Woomera.
§ Mr. Benn
This launching is the eighth in the series so far. In the first five firings only the British first stage (Blue Streak) was live and all were successful. The next two firings had live (French) second stages but on both occasions they failed to ignite, Blue Streak having operated successfully each time. The present launch (F7) incorporates a live (German) third stage and is the first to attempt to put a satellite into orbit.
For many months it was planned to launch the F7 on 18th November. Several days before this date, difficulties with the French second stage caused the schedule to be put back and launching to be rearranged for 22nd November. This was quickly followed by a further postponement of the launch to 23rd November due mainly to continuing trouble with the second stage.
The first attempt at launching (on 23rd November) was abandoned about three hours before lift-off because of the premature ejection of the umbilical plug from the German third stage. The second attempt was made on 25th November. This was abandoned at 35 seconds before lift-off owing to a fault in the arming of the separation motor of the French second stage.
The third attempt on 27th November was abandoned at one hour before liftoff when a fault developed in the pressurisation of the second stage.
A further attempt at launching was made on 28th November. Some delay was experienced due to a failure of electrical power in the range area, and a further short delay was caused by minor faults in the ground support equipment. The attempt was finally abandoned shortly before lift-off due to a false indication of an engine fault in one of the first stage engines.
The next attempt is expected to be made on 30th November and we all hope it will be successful.