October 28, 1971: The United Kingdom launches the Prospero X-3.
The first and last satellite to be launched by a British rocket, the Prospero was designed by the Royal Aircraft Establishment in order to test solar cells and detect micrometeorites.
Prospero was decommissioned in 1996, but it is expected to remain in orbit for another sixty years. As of September 2011, British scientists have been attempting to reestablish communications with the satellite, in time for its 40th anniversary. For now, it remains a largely forgotten piece of Britain’s obscure, short-lived space programme.