How Britain Won the Space Race: The Story of Bernard Lovell and Jodrell Bank - documentary

How Britain Won the Space Race: The Story of Bernard Lovell and Jodrell Bank
Rated 98
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Jodrell Bank documentary. In this film we follow the story of Sir Bernard Lovell and how Britain won the space race. The story starts in the early 20th century when Lovell was inspired to get involved in science after seeing and hearing two charged particle devices. It was at this moment forward he would be involved in greater and greater scientific projects. After serving in the war Lovell returned to Cheshire but still wanted to be involved in radio technology, this led him to a small patch of land in Twemlow, Cheshire which was owned by Manchester Universities botany department. The initial plan was to discover whether the theoretical principal behind a radio telescope would actually work or not. After many visual observations it seemed to work, this was a major breakthrough and as a result Lovell was joined by many other researchers at Jodrell Bank who used bits of metal, chicken wire and old radio equipment left over from the war to create rudimentary radio telescopes. This was pioneering work that would ultimately lead to the development of the massive radio telescope that we see on the site today.


The Jodrell bank radio telescope is 250 ft in diameter and stands at a height of more than 89 meters. construction started in the early 1950’s and was completed in  summer 1957, just as the cold war was starting to hot up. The initial budget was estimated to be £120,000 but it ended up costing more than £700,000 and as a result Lovell and his team had to win public support by showing off the telescope in press release campaigns, much to lovell’s dismay since it was not what it was originally designed to do and more to the point Lovell wanted the project that almost criminally bankrupted him to be used to make cutting edge discoveries. When it was first constructed the Lovell telescope was the largest steerable radio telescope in the world, it is now the third largest but remains operation and is still making discoveries more than 50 year later.

Maxine Peake
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