Ian Ritchie describes the launch of the Blue Streak, 2006

Transcript of interview

Out on the launch area, you're a couple of kilometres away from it. You're not outside watching it, sort of standing around watching it. You're locked in a control room, anyway. I mean, we knew exactly what was happening, just by following the countdown. You have, like, a time counting down on the control panels, and you can watch it counting down. And there's some overall sequence officer on the centre of the range who reads out the relevant points like, you know, minus five minutes, minus three minutes, and then more intervals as you get close. But it's relatively quiet when you're getting down to the final minute or so, you know, minus five minutes really, when you're sort of holding your breath hoping everything's going to go to plan, because there's various points on the countdown where it would automatically stop if something went wrong. But when it gets down to zero, the whole place is shaking and you can hear the roar in the distance, yeah. When it had gone, you could go outside and you see the contrail of it sort of heading off up range. Yeah, there wasn't a lot to see from ground level where we were. But the first one, well you probably didn't know what to expect, you know. You sort of, first time you'd thrown it into the sky, so you were on tenterhooks in some respects, although you couldn't do anything about it once it's left the launch pad and it's on its way. You know, we've done our bit and you just have to wait and see how long it runs for. I think it was the first one ran for 136 seconds, so it didn't run the full time that they wanted it to run because they had some problem with the fuel sloshing about in the tanks, and it was going to go out of control with the weight sort of swinging around inside it, so they cut the engines at 136 seconds. But they found everything they needed to know in that time, apart from the sloshing of the fuel, which they fixed later anyway. You sort of thought you were at the forefront of everything there, you know, because it was very successful. We didn't really have any failures with the Blue Streak part of it.