Whole Object Name
Blue Streak Missile Schematic Drawing
This schematic drawing focuses on the British Blue Streak missile, designed to be part of the UK's nuclear deterrent. Produced by the British Oxygen Company (BOC), who were responsible for providing liquid oxygen and gaseous and liquid nitrogen for the rocket.
The drawing belonged to Sheila Wilkes, who worked as a tracer at BOC. Tracer was a traditionally female occupation at the time, which, along with tracing complex schematic diagrams, included helping the detailed drawing work of the principal draughtsman. Through her career Wilkes worked her way up through this male dominated profession, eventually becoming a draughtswoman and developing designs for the Kariba Dam situated in the Kariba Gorge of the Zambezi river basin between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The drawing shows the systems involved in supplying liquid oxygen for testing the rocket’s engines. BOC had a plant at the Spadeadam testing site, where they produced the liquid oxygen, gaseous and liquid nitrogen required for testing Blue Streak rockets - 60 of which were intended to be deployed in underground silos around the east of England. Blue Streak was later cancelled as a nuclear deterrent, instead going on to form the first stage of a European satellite launcher called Europa. Blue Streak rockets were tested in Australia at Woomera, where they continued to use liquid oxygen - as per the designs in this drawing - as the oxidizer for the fuel that provided the thrust to send the rocket into space.