Rocket motor, sectioned, Dorado, aluminium/steel/synthetics, Maribyrnong Explosives Factory, Melbourne, 1972-1975
This rocket was designed by the Rocket Propulsion Group of the Weapons Research Establishment (now the Defence Science and Technology Research Organisation). WRE was the proprietor of the Woomera Rocket Range. The Dorado engine was a modification of the British-designed Demon rocket motor, filled with an Australian solid fuel, to give twice the power of the original design. It was developed over several years as a low-priority project of the Rocket Propulsion Group, and was used in the Australian-designed Lorikeet sounding rockets, used for upper atmosphere research.
Dorado rocket motors were manufactured in Australia at the Commonwealth-owned Maribyrnong Explosives Factory. Maribyrnong was responsible for the manufacture of solid propellants and many different types of rocket engines, both Australian and British designs, used in Australian rockets and missiles.
The Lorikeet rocket was introduced around 1972/73, in conjunction with the later Mks of the Kookaburra rocket, to extend the upper atmosphere temperature research program. The program was shut down in 1975 with the termination of the Australian sounding rocket program. Dorado rocket motors would have been manufactured for these rockets between 1972/73 and 1975.
Dorado rocket motors were used as first stage engines in the Australian-designed Lorikeet Mk1 sounding rockets that were used at Woomera for research into the upper atmosphere. These rockets usually carried a dropsonde (an instrument package designed to be dropped through the atmosphere, transmitting data as it falls) which was released at a height of approximately 75km. More than 15 Lorikeet rockets were launched at Woomera.
This rocket was sectioned for use in the museum of the Maribyrnong Explosives Factory and was on display there for at least 20 years. The Maribyrnong facility was closed down in 1994 and the contents of the museum disposed of at the discretion of its curator. This rocket motor and the others in this acquisition were offered to the donor, in his private capacity as an aviation historian. Mr. Clayton, in turn, has offered them to this museum, as they do not fall within the collecting policy of the Museum of Victoria.