Black Arrow 2 is Horizon’s first project, named after the first British rocket to launch a satellite in 1971.

Standing nearly 25m tall, it is a two stage orbital space launch vehicle designed to reliably deploy small satellites in support of missions for the UK Space Agency (UKSA), European Space Agency (ESA) and commercial satellite companies from all around the world.

The first stage produces 500,000 Newtons of thrust (approx. 112,000 lbf) and the upper stage produces 45,000 Newtons (approx. 10,000 lbf).

Both stages are fueled with clean-burning Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) propellants.

Initial Performance:

500 kg to 200×200 km 0° equatorial* orbit.
350 kg to 600×600 km 98° sun-synchronous orbit.
* – Equatorial performance is based on a launch site with a latitude within 30° of the equator.


An extensive ground test program is planned with initial upper stage combustion chambers, turbopumps, injectors and RCS thrusters planned to be tested at Westcott, near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire — the historic home of rocketry in the UK. Hot-fire testing should begin there in 2017.
The larger first stage chamber is too large to operate safely at Westcott, so we require a more isolated site for that. We are looking at various alternatives, with South Wales looking most favourable.
We hope to be able to arrange for the public to watch some, if not all, of our tests.


Horizon is preparing for a 10-flight test program with all test launches flying from a new site in northern Scotland.
The first flights are planned to be sub-orbital tests of the first stage alone, and quite unusually, they may fly westerly into the Atlantic. Later flights will fly north, as we build our experience and attempt to reach polar orbit from the UK.
For operational flights, we can continue to fly from the UK for appropriate missions, but our mobile launch facility gives us great flexibility and we have the option to partner with the ESA and operate from their Guiana Space Centre in South America, to possibly use the same Australian launch site at Woomera where British rockets historically flew (including the original Black Arrow), or perhaps utilise the extensive tracking facilities available at the US Air Force’s Eastern Test Range at Cape Canaveral, Florida.


The current development schedule for Black Arrow 2 is targeted to begin test flights in late 2019, with the first customer flights (Initial Operational Capability – IOC) one year later.

Black Arrow 2 Schedule


SRA – Systems Requirements Audit (Completed)
CDA – Conceptual Design Audit
FDA – Final Design Audit
FCA – Flight Certification Audit
OCA – Operational Certification Audit
IOC  – Initial Operational Capability
FOC – Full Operational Capability

Large Payload Fairing


Black Arrow 2’s standard Payload Fairing (PLF) is 2.4m in diameter and stands nearly 7m tall, allowing for satellites with substantial volume.

Highly Transportable

Black Arrow 2 is designed to launch from virtually anywhere in the world.

The entire launch facility, including an ISO-7 Class 10,000 cleanroom payload facility, packs away inside 26 standard ISO cargo-containers.
The complete facility can relocate to a new launch site in less than 30 days.