Skylark launch tower

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Launch of the final Skylark rocket from the Esrange Skylark tower, 2 May 2005.

A Skylark tower is a tower used for the launch of earlier versions of Skylark rockets. As Skylark rockets have no guidance system and accelerate slowly, they require a safe launch tower with a height of at least 24 metres with a guidance system.

Later versions of the Skylark rocket were equipped with a more powerful engine and therefore did not need such a large guidance tower for launch.


In 1956, a 30 metre tall swivelling launch tower was set up on launch site 2, at Woomera, South Australia. The tower was built of old Bailey bridge segments, each weighing 35 tons.

Salto di Quirra[edit]

At Salto di Quirra, Sardinia in 1965, a 30 metre tall Skylark tower was erected. The tower ceased to be in use from 1972, at which point launches moved to Esrange. The tower remains today.


At Esrange, Sweden in 1972, a 30 metre high Skylark tower was built. The tower consists of a pyramid-like building with a launch tower on its top, in order to protect the rocket from cold before launch, necessary as Esrange is within the Arctic Circle. At launch, exhaust doors were opened to enable the smoke to leave the construct.

As Skylark rockets are no longer available,[why?] Esrange Skylark launch tower was modified in 2005 for launching Brazilian VSB-30 rockets. The tower is now used for launches of rockets manufactured in Brazil.


  • Description in DORADO,José M. Spain and the European Space Effort. Studies in Modern Science and Technology from the International Academy of the History of Science, Volume 5. Beauchesne. Paris 2008 pp 75-119

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