IT has cult status in the space community, regarded as a jewel in the crown of Britain’s space and nuclear missile programme.

Now the UK’s only rocket to successfully launch a satellite into orbit is to be unveiled in Scotland following a 10,000-mile journey home, 48 years after it last left these shores.

It was back in October 1971 that a Black Arrow rocket lifted off from the Woomera test range 450 kilometres north-west of Adelaide in southern Australia.

The rocket placed into orbit a small satellite - called Prospero - aiming to study the impact of the space environment on satellites.

The momentous occasion marked the first time a UK-built rocket placed a satellite into orbit - and also the last time a UK-built rocket placed a satellite into orbit.

The Black Arrow projectile has lain at its crash landing site in the outback for more than 48 years, damaged overtime by the extreme weather of the area and also by vandalism.

But space technology firm, Skyrora, has now stepped in to bring back a vital piece of British space history back to Britain.

Skyrora, a rocket developer aiming to once again launch satellites into orbit from the UK, committed its long-term future to Scotland last November, when it signed a five-year-lease on premises in Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

It hopes its first launches will take place as early as 2021, saying it is on track to operate from a new spaceport in Scotland, aiming to provide dedicated UK-based launches.

And the Black Arrow rocket - described as “the most important artefact” of the UK’s space industry - is to go on display in Penicuik, Midlothian, later this month.

Daniel Smith, director at Skyrora, said: “This is quite feasibly the most important artefact linked to the UK’s space history.

“While our engineers have been working on our own launches, our STEM ambassadors have been arranging all of this in the background.

“We’ll be unveiling it in Penicuik later this month, not far from our headquarters and workshop in Edinburgh.

“With the UK Government aiming to make us a launch nation again, it seemed like the perfect time to bring Black Arrow back.

“We really hope the rocket will help to inspire current and future generations of scientists and engineers.”

The UK Space Agency has previously announced £2.5 million of funding for a proposed vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland.

Developed and tested on the Isle of Wight, the Black Arrow programme completed four rockets between 1969 and 1971, with the aim of keeping Britain involved in the space programme, albeit at a low level.

But as a Conservative Government replaced Labour in 1970, the space programme - small as it was - became subject to cuts.

The third flight was the first and only successful UK-led orbital launch, but the programme was then cancelled.

And this is said to have given the rocket its “cult status” among space enthusiasts, who have closely monitored Black Arrow’s journey home, which saw it transported across land and sea, making the trip from the Australian desert to Edinburgh via Adelaide.

Skyrora has also commissioned a plaque to be placed where Black Arrow had lain for so long, disregarded in the Australian outback.

Dr Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Black Arrow is testament to Britain’s longstanding heritage in the space sector which continues to thrive today.

“The Government’s Spaceflight Programme includes a series of education and outreach activities which I hope will play a major role in inspiring the next generation of space scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.”

Skyrora successfully completed its inaugural sub-orbital test launch north of the border last year.

The company’s next rockets, Skylark Micro and SkyHy, will allow its team to gain more valuable launch experience, with the latter capable of reaching the edge of space - a feat never accomplished by a private company launching from the UK before.

Meanwhile, Prospero is still in orbit, expected to stay above the earth for decades to come, circling it every 100 minutes.

With the correct equipment, the satellite’s radio transmitter can still be heard broadcasting on 137.56 MHz.

Enthusiasts can learn if it is passing overhead soon at with the next most likely viewing in March.