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the rocket that launched men to the Moon

The Saturn Rocket evolved from the idea of clustering a number of Jupiter engines around Redstone and Jupiter propellant tanks to build a large launch vehicle. The Department of Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) approved the concept in August 1958, and development began in December 1959.

A total of thirty-two Saturns of all types were launched during the course of the program, without a single failure.

The Saturn 'family' of rockets.
the Saturn 'family' of rockets

A ground test version of the first stage of the Saturn rocket being moved to a test building at NASA's Michoud operations at New Orleans, Louisiana.
test version of first stage

A static test of rocket engines at Santa Susana, California, lights up the night sky.
static test of Saturn engine

Saturn I had a cluster of eight rocket nozzles in the first stage and was used to lift the Apollo into low Earth orbit to test out the spacecraft and to later support the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test project. The first 162--foot-long vehicle, weighing nearly 1 million pounds, was launched from Cape Canaveral on October 27, 1961.

The first Saturn IB suborbital flight took place on February 26, 1966, with an unmanned Apollo spacecraft as payload. On October 11, 1968, a Saturn IB rocket launched Apollo 7 into Earth orbit; it was the only piloted mission with this vehicle.

The first Saturn V was launched in 1967. Designed under the guidance of Wernher von Braun, this was the largest rocket ever used by the United States. Standing over 363 feet high, including its Apollo spacecraft payload, it used five F-1 engines to send Apollo astronauts to the Moon, and to lift the Skylab Space Station into orbit.

Diagram of the Saturn V rocket.
diagram of a Saturn V rocket

Size: 111 m (363 ft)
Payload to orbit: 129,300 kg (285,000 lb)
Payload to Moon: 48,500 kg (107,000 lb)
Manufacturer: Boeing Co. (prime)
1st stage: five F-1 engines
Propellants: RP-1 (kerosene) and liquid oxygen
Total thrust: 33,360,000 newtons (7,500,000 lb)
Manufacturer: Rocketdyne
2nd stage: five J-2 engines
Propellants: liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen
Total thrust: 5,560,000 newtons (1,250,000 lb)
Manufacturer: Rocketdyne
3rd stage: one J-2 engine
Thrust: 1,112,000 newtons (250,000 lb)

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The Robinson Library >> Rocket Science

This page was last updated on September 26, 2018.