NW076 1/144 Diamant BP4
last French satellite launch vehicle
The Diamant rocket (diamant is French for "diamond")
was the first exclusively French expendable launch system and at
the same time the first satellite launcher not built by either
USA or USSR. As such it is the main predecessor of all subsequent
European launcher projects.
Work on a three-stage rocket able to launch a small satellite began in 1960. By 1961, the Diamant A design, capable of lofting 80 kg satellite, had emerged. In adittion to its Emeraude first stage and Topaze second stage, the Diamant featured a new solid fueled third stage P-6.
The first Diamant lifted off from Hamaguir, Algeria, at 2:47 PM on November 26, 1965.
Diamant BP4 (as well as Diamant B) used new Amethyste first stage with 50% more propellants with new Valois engine. 2nd stage was replaced by P4 Rita stage, adapted from the second stage of the submarine launched strategic missile. The larger fairing developed for the British Black Arrow launch vehicle allowed larger payloads to be acommodated.
The first Diamant BP4 liffted off from Kourou on February 6, 1975. It placed the Starlette geodetic satellite into orbit. The 50 kg spherical satellite was covered with 60 laser reflectors. Laser ranging of the satellite allowed precise measurement of locations on Earth.
Three launches of the BP4 in the same year completed the Diamant saga.