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.