Friday, October 16, 2009

The Mighty Saturn V

Earlier this month (October 1) the movie APOLLO 13 was shown at Johnson Space Center, projected on the side of the Saturn V. Even the third stage is big enough to serve as a movie screen. This is the moment in the movie when Armstrong first stepped on the Moon.

The Saturn V retired with a perfect safety record. Three Saturn V's built for Apollo 18-20 were never used. The first, SA-513, launched the Skylab space station in 1973. Boeing engineers wanted SA-514 and SA-515 for modification into flyback Shuttle boosters. As we heard from Shuttle Program Manager Bob Thompson, that plan was axed as too risky. Shuttles would fly with today's familiar Solid Rocket Booster and External Tank configuration.

The Saturn V on display here at Johnson Space Center is composed of the first stage of SA-514, the second stage of SA-515, and the unused third stage of SA-513. The latter third stage was not needed for the two-stage Skylab mission. The second and third stages of SA-514 are in the Saturn V on display at Kennedy Space Center.

Saturn V was the biggest successful rocket ever flown. (The Russian N-1 kept blowing up.) The proposed Ares V would be even larger and more powerful. The newer design would be nearly too big for the VAB doors, and might require modification of the crawlerway at KSC. Most plans for the Moon and Mars use a heavy-lift booster. We have yet to see what vehicles will take people beyond Earth orbit.



Blogger Unknown said...

Wow. To see Apollo 13 on a Saturn V. I wish I was there! COOL! I'm a totla nerd!

7:26 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Nice to hear from you, Rebekah. From your blog, you have some fascinating interests!

9:18 AM  
Blogger qraal said...

I've always thought those Saturns should fly rather than collect dust. And it's a shame the second "Skylab" never got its ride - they could've built an ISS 20 years earlier! Guess the Breshnev-era geo-politics weren't really right for such.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Frank Glover said...

I had the opportunity to visit JSC (with a friend employed there) and walk around the Saturn 5 on January 1, 2000. But back then, it was in the open. When was an enclosure built around it?

4:45 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Hello graal and Frank: After being on display outdoors at JSC since 1977, this Saturn V was quite rusty. After restoration and building of the enclosure, it was officially reopened July 20, 2007. (I had to be at the Smithsonian that day, see the post.)

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Frank Glover said...

Ah. okay. I remember seeing a story on restoring the rocket in Air & Space magazine a while back, but didn't know it included a (well deserved) shelter. I've been back to Houston three times in the last three years, but couldn't get to JSC on those occasions...

6:10 AM  
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7:21 AM  
Anonymous Jeffrey Ellis said...

Love it. I park right next to the Rocket Park every day.

4:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 Saturn V's could have brought the entire planned ISS up into LEO in a year's time. Shuttle = Stupid. Losing the tooling, plans, whatever for building the incredibly wonderful and beautiful Saturn V was a terrible tragedy.
Like OOPS I cured cancer but lost my notes on how to do it again. When the mighty Saturn V took off you could feel it in your chest, like someone was standing on your chest but you were standing up. Too bad these kids today can only hear an old man like me talk about it and not experience it themselves. Bring back the Saturn V.

7:53 PM  
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Anonymous xlpharmacy said...

Apollo 13 it's a great movie and I like it 'cause it shows a lot of things about space missions and other things.

10:02 AM  
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