THE National Trust’s Needles New Battery will host a ‘Rocket Week’ later this month, with activities to celebrate the launch of Prospero.

Prospero was the first British satellite launched after rocket testing on Highdown and the New Battery 50 years ago, on October 28, 1971.

Visitors can explore the underground exhibition rooms at the New Battery and learn all about the secret rocket testing, plus there will be colouring and puzzles for children.

On Thursday, October 28, the actual 50th anniversary, there will be a celebration of the launch of the Prospero satellite by the Black Arrow rocket, with craft activities for children, including satellite model making using recycled materials.

One of the original Highdown Test Site engineers will be on-site to speak about what it was like working on the early British space programme.

Rocket model at Needles Old Battery. Picture courtesy of National Trust.

Rocket model at Needles Old Battery. Picture courtesy of National Trust.

Meanwhile, along the headland at The Needles Old Battery, overlooking the famous Needles rocks and lighthouse, families can participate in the fort’s October activity, a Shipwrecks Trail with smugglers clues.

Jo-Anne King, Welcome Manager at The Needles Old and New Battery, said: “The history of the testing of the space rockets at the Needles is fascinating.

“It’s amazing that at the time the Isle of Wight was at the forefront of space technology, and that the Prospero satellite is still circulating the earth 50 years on.

“Prospero is special as it was the first and so far, the only British satellite to launch on a British-built rocket.”

The New Battery will be open from October 23 to 30, 2021, from 11am to 4pm.

Standard admission applies to entry to the Old Battery, which for National Members is free, with entry to the New Battery free for all visitors.

Further information, along with more details on the rocket testing and other autumn activities on the Island, is available on the National Trust website.