Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saturn V


Saturn V SizeThe amazing rocket that boosted the Apollo capsules moonward!

The Saturn V Rocket, designed by Wernher von Braun’s team at Huntsville, Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center, is the largest and most powerful launch vehicle ever brought to operational status... though NASA's new Ares series will be comparable.

NASA launched thirteen multistage liquid-fuel expendable Saturn V rockets in the Apollo and Skylab space programs between 1967 and 1973.

On the launch pad, each with an Apollo spacecraft on top stood more than 36 stories high and weighed about 6 million pounds.

The “Saturn 5” was composed of three stages, and five Rocketdyne F-1 rocket engines that together yielded nearly 8 million pounds of thrust, burning highly-refined kerosene, with liquid oxygen used as the oxidizer.

The SI-C first stage, and the largest, was built by Boeing, and weighed over 5 million pounds when fully fueled.

The S-II second stage was built by North American Aviation, and connected to the SI-C by an interstage ring, which separated after the second-stage engines began firing. The second stage was powered by five Rocketdyne J-2 engines, propelled by liquid hydrogen.

The S-IVB third stage was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company. In the Apollo configuration, this third stage carried the command ship and lunar lander, as well as the IBM-designed Instrument Unit, the brains of the Saturn V rocket. The IU contained the rocket's primary systems, including inertial guidance, radio communications for telemetry, tracking and command, power, and emergency detection of vehicle malfunctions.

Saturn Rocket
I want my MTV!

A single restartable J-2 engine powered the Apollo spacecraft into Earth orbit, then a second burn later on would kick the spacecraft into the trans-lunar injection burn to put it on course for the Moon.

Together, all three stages reached 363 feet. Three Saturn V rockets survive, but only the one at Johnson Space Center in Houston (restored in 2004) is made up entirely of rocket stages intended for flight. Three planned moon flights, Apollo 18, 19 and 20, were cancelled.

Johnson Space Center
Me... looking extremely tiny beside the
Saturn V rocket at JSC! (Summer 1999)