A diorama showing a Blue Streak Missile in its silo. Designed and built by de Havilland at Hatfield, Blue Streak was Britain’s first long-range missile and was later used for satellite launches.
The Blue Streak Missile was designed by de Havilland at Hatfield during the Cold War, as the launch vehicle for Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
Work started in 1954 and the concept involved Blue Streaks located in silos around the country, ready to launch at a few hours’ notice. The self-contained Silos would have accommodated a launch crew of about 8 people who would have lived and worked underground for about a week in the event of the threat of nuclear war.
Blue Streak was cancelled as a military project in 1960, although several successful test flights had been made. The launch silos were never built, so this diorama shows how a typical silo might have looked and was built using information from the National Archives.
Blue Streak went on to form part of EUROPA, a European multi-stage rocket for launching satellites. Although no successful EUROPA launches were made, the Blue Streak stage had a 100% success rate: the joint European organisation that commissioned the launches later became the European Space Agency.
The Hertfordshire-built Blue Streak thus played an important role in Europe’s commitment to space exploration, a role that is carried on by several Herts-based companies today.