Armed Services

Working as a Highland Dancing Instructor by George Welsh >>>>>

Bob Pountney’s work as a RAF Rescue Helicopter Winchman >>>>>

Ernest’s first job as a rocket scientist

Black Knight Rocket on display in Edinburgh Source Permission (Reusing this file) Released into the public domain (by the author).

Ernest graduated from Heriott Watt University in Edinburgh with a BSc in Chemistry. He was 22 and it was 1958. He was due to go into National Service or he could work for the government researching rocket fuels. In National Service he would have earned 27 /- 6d (£ 2  37 1/2p) a week and as a rocket scientist 10 guineas ( £10.50) per week. He chose the latter and went to work at the Royal Naval Scientific Service at Carwent nr. Newport and Chepstow. Ernest was interested in rockets due to Von Braun‘s research. 

His main work involved looking into the storage of rocket fuel. Over time the fuel becomes unstable and increasingly dangerous to store. He used inch-cubes of the fuel and artificially aged them in a bunker by subjecting them to temper and humidity. Then the breakdown products could be identified.Rocket fuel was only used by Black Knight and Blue Streak at that time. He was going to submit his research on the shelf life of rocket fuel for an MSc but he left the Naval work in 1960 to move to Newcastle. He wanted to be nearer his fiance who lived in Scotland. He couldn’t find a job using his skills in Scotland at the time.

Additional links

There are lots of books in the local libraries about Space and Rocket Development.

NASA Kids ClubNASA Kids Club– Here are opportunities to explore Space and find out why we want to find out about Space.
Edwin Hubble- groundbreaking Astronomer who found evidence that the universe was expanding.
Werhner Von Braun- rocket scientist and aerospace engineer

Rocket Fuel websiteRocket Fuel information- website which discusses different types of rocket fuel. Rocket Propellant Information- lots of information on the history of Rocket Fuel.


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