Debut: April 2015



.: Tim Hales' Saturn V with Skylab & Apollo





Modelling Time:

2 months

PE/Resin Detail:



"Kit included Apollo version parts
Completed as cut-away. "

Saturn V

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Saturn V (disambiguation).
Saturn V
Apollo 17 The Last Moon Shot Edit1.jpg
The final manned Saturn V, AS-512, before the launch of Apollo 17
Function Apollo lunar program
Launch of Skylab
Manufacturer Boeing (S-IC)
North American (S-II)
Douglas (S-IVB)
Country of origin United States
Project cost $6.417 billion in 1964–73 dollars[1]($41.3 billion present day) [2]
Cost per launch $494 million in 1964–73 dollars[1]
Height 363.0 feet (110.6 m)
Diameter 33.0 feet (10.1 m)
Mass 6,540,000 pounds (2,970,000 kg)[3]
Stages 3
Payload to
260,000 pounds (118,000 kg)[4]
Payload to
107,100 pounds (48,600 kg)[3]
Associated rockets
Family Saturn
Derivatives Saturn INT-21
Comparable N1 rocket
Launch history
Status Decommissioned
Launch sites LC-39Kennedy Space Center
Total launches 13
Successes 12
Failures 0
Partial failures 1 (Apollo 6)
First flight November 9, 1967 (AS-501[note 1]Apollo 4)
Last flight May 14, 1973 (AS-513 Skylab 1)
First Stage - S-IC
Length 138.0 feet (42.1 m)
Diameter 33.0 feet (10.1 m)
Empty mass 287,000 pounds (130,000 kg)
Gross mass 5,040,000 pounds (2,290,000 kg)
Engines Rocketdyne F-1
Thrust 7,648,000 lbf (34,020 kN)
Specific impulse 263 seconds (2.58 km/s)
Burn time 165 seconds
Fuel RP-1/LOX
Second Stage - S-II
Length 81.5 feet (24.8 m)
Diameter 33.0 feet (10.1 m)
Empty mass 88,400 pounds (40,100 kg)[note 2]
Gross mass 1,093,900 pounds (496,200 kg)[note 2]
Engines Rocketdyne J-2
Thrust 1,000,000 lbf (4,400 kN)
Specific impulse 421 seconds (4.13 km/s)
Burn time 360 seconds
Fuel LH2/LOX
Third Stage - S-IVB
Length 61.6 feet (18.8 m)
Diameter 21.7 feet (6.6 m)
Empty mass 29,700 pounds (13,500 kg)[3][note 3]
Gross mass 271,000 pounds (123,000 kg)[note 3]
Engines Rocketdyne J-2
Thrust 225,000 lbf (1,000 kN)
Specific impulse 421 seconds (4.13 km/s)
Burn time 165 + 335 seconds
(2 burns)
Fuel LH2/LOX

The Saturn V (spoken as "Saturn five") was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA between 1966 and 1973. The three-stage liquid-fueled launch vehicle was developed to support the Apollo program for human exploration of the Moon, and was later used to launch Skylab, the first American space station. The Saturn V was launched 13 times from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with no loss of crew or payload. The Saturn V remains the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds records for the heaviest payload launched and largest payload capacity to low Earth orbit (LEO) of 118,000 kilograms (260,000 lb).[5][6]

The largest production model of the Saturn family of rockets, the Saturn V was designed under the direction of Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, with BoeingNorth American AviationDouglas Aircraft Company, and IBM as the lead contractors. Von Braun's design was based in part on his work on the Aggregate series of rockets, especially the A-10, A-11, and A-12, in Germany during World War II.

To date, the Saturn V remains the only launch vehicle able to transport human beings beyond low Earth orbit. A total of 24 astronauts were launched to the Moon, three of them twice, in the four years spanning December 1968 through December 1972.

Historical background

Main article: Space Race

The origins of the Saturn V rocket begin with the US government bringing Wernher von Braun along with about seven hundred German rocket engineers and technicians to the United States in Operation Paperclip, a program authorized by President Truman in August 1946 with the purpose of harvesting Germany's rocket expertise, to give the US an edge in the Cold War through development of intermediate-range (IRBM) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). It was known that America's rival, the Soviet Union, would also try to harvest some of the Germans.

Von Braun was put into the rocket design division of the Army due to his prior direct involvement in the creation of the V-2 rocket.[7] Between 1945 and 1958, his work was restricted to conveying the ideas and methods behind the V-2 to the American engineers.[citation needed] Despite Von Braun's many articles on the future of space rocketry, the US Government continued funding Air Force and Navy rocket programs to test their Vanguard missiles despite numerous costly failures. It was not until the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik atop an R-7 ICBM capable of carrying a thermonuclear warhead to the US,[8][9] that the Army and the government started taking serious steps towards putting Americans in space.[10] Finally, they turned to von Braun and his team, who during these years created and experimented with the Jupiter series of rockets. The Juno I was the rocket that launched the first American satellite in January 1958, and part of the last-ditch plan for NACA (the predecessor of NASA) to get its foot in the Space Race.[11] The Jupiter series was one more step in von Braun's journey to the Saturn V, later calling that first series "an infant Saturn".[10]

Saturn development

Main article: Saturn (rocket family)

The Saturn V's design stemmed from the designs of the Jupiter series rockets. As the success of the Jupiter series became evident, the Saturn series emerged.

C-1 to C-4

Between 1960 and 1962, the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) designed a series of Saturn rockets that could be used for various Earth orbit or lunar missions.

The C-1 was developed into the Saturn I, and the C-2 rocket was dropped early in the design process in favor of the C-3, which was intended to use two F-1 engines on its first stage, four J-2 engines for its second stage, and an S-IV stage, using six RL10 engines.

NASA planned to use the C-3 as part of the Earth Orbit Rendezvous (EOR) concept, with at least four or five launches needed for a single lunar mission.[citation needed] But MSFC was already planning an even bigger rocket, the C-4, which would use four F-1 engines on its first stage, an enlarged C-3 second stage, and the S-IVB, a stage with a single J-2 engine, as its third stage. The C-4 would need only two launches to carry out an EOR lunar mission.[citation needed]


On January 10, 1962, NASA announced plans to build the C-5. The three-stage rocket would consist of: the S-IC first stage, with five F-1 engines; the S-II second stage, with five J-2 engines; and the S-IVB third stage, with a single J-2 engine.[12] The C-5 was designed for a 90,000 pounds (41,000 kg) payload capacity to the Moon.[12]

The C-5 would undergo component testing even before the first model was constructed. The S-IVB third stage would be used as the second stage for the C-IB, which would serve both to demonstrate proof of concept and feasibility for the C-5, but would also provide flight data critical to development of the C-5.[12] Rather than undergoing testing for each major component, the C-5 would be tested in an "all-up" fashion, meaning that the first test flight of the rocket would include complete versions of all three stages. By testing all components at once, far fewer test flights would be required before a manned launch.[13]

The C-5 was confirmed as NASA's choice for the Apollo Program in early 1963, and was named the Saturn V.[12] The C-1 became the Saturn I, and C-1B became Saturn IB. Von Braun headed a team at the Marshall Space Flight Center in building a vehicle capable of launching a manned spacecraft on a trajectory to the Moon.[10] Before they moved under NASA's jurisdiction, von Braun's team had already begun work on improving the thrust, creating a less complex operating system, and designing better mechanical systems.[10] It was during these revisions that the decision to reject the single engine of the V-2's design came about, and the team moved to a multiple-engine design. The Saturn I and IB reflected these changes, but were not large enough to send a manned spacecraft to the Moon.[10] These designs, however, provided a basis for which NASA could determine its best method towards landing a man on the Moon.

The Saturn V's final design had several key design features. Engineers determined that the best engines were the F-1s coupled with the new liquid hydrogen propulsion system called J-2, which made the Saturn C-5 configuration optimal.[10] By 1962, NASA had finalized its plans to proceed with von Braun's Saturn designs, and the Apollo space program gained speed.[14]

With the configuration finalized, NASA turned its attention to mission profiles. Despite some controversy, a lunar orbit rendezvous for the lunar module was chosen over an Earth orbital rendezvous.[10] Issues such as type of fuel injections, the needed amount of fuel for such a trip, and rocket manufacturing processes were ironed out, and the designs for the Saturn V were selected. The stages were designed by von Braun's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, and outside contractors were chosen for the construction: Boeing (S-IC), North American Aviation (S-II), Douglas Aircraft (S-IVB), and IBM (Instrument Unit).[14]

Selection for Apollo lunar landing

Early in the planning process, NASA considered three leading ideas for the Moon mission: Earth Orbit RendezvousDirect Ascent, and Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR). A direct ascent configuration would launch a larger rocket which would land directly on the lunar surface, while an Earth orbit rendezvous would launch two smaller spacecraft which would combine in Earth orbit. A LOR mission would involve a single rocket launching a single spacecraft, but only a small part of that spacecraft would land on the moon. That smaller landing module would then rendezvous with the main spacecraft, and the crew would return home.[15]

NASA at first dismissed LOR as a riskier option, given that an orbital rendezvous had yet to be performed in Earth orbit, much less in lunar orbit. Several NASA officials, including Langley Research Center engineer John Houboltand NASA Administrator George Low, argued that a Lunar Orbit Rendezvous provided the simplest landing on the moon, the most cost–efficient launch vehicle and, perhaps most importantly, the best chance to accomplish a lunar landing within the decade.[12] Other NASA officials were convinced, and LOR was officially selected as the mission configuration for the Apollo program on 7 November 1962.[12]


Saturn V diagram

The Saturn V's size and payload capacity dwarfed all other previous rockets which had successfully flown at that time. With the Apollo spacecraft on top it stood 363 feet (111 m) tall and without fins it was 33 feet (10 m) in diameter. Fully fueled, the Saturn V weighed 6.5 million pounds (2,950 metric tons)[3] and had a payload capacity of 260,000 pounds (120,000 kg) to LEO. Comparatively, at 363 feet (111 m), the Saturn V is 58 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty from the ground to the torch, and 48 feet taller than the Big Ben clock tower.[16]

In contrast, the Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle used on Freedom 7, the first manned American spaceflight, was just under 11 feet (3.4 m) longer than the S-IVB stage, and delivered less sea level thrust (78,000 pounds-force (350 kN)) than the Launch Escape System rocket (147,000 pounds-force (650 kN) sea level thrust) mounted atop the Apollo command module.[17]

The Saturn V was principally designed by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, although numerous major systems, including propulsion, were designed by subcontractors. It used the powerful new F-1 and J-2 rocket engines for propulsion. When tested, these engines shattered the windows of nearby houses.[18] Designers decided early on to attempt to use as much technology from the Saturn I program as possible. Consequently, the S-IVB-500 third stage of the Saturn V was based on the S-IVB-200 second stage of the Saturn IB. The Instrument Unit that controlled the Saturn V shared characteristics with that carried by the Saturn IB.

Blueprints and other Saturn V plans are available on microfilm at the Marshall Space Flight Center.[19]


The Saturn V consisted of three stages—the S-IC first stage, S-II second stage and the S-IVB third stage—and the instrument unit. All three stages used liquid oxygen (LOX) as an oxidizer. The first stage used RP-1 for fuel, while the second and third stages used liquid hydrogen (LH2). The upper stages also used small solid-fueled ullage motors that helped to separate the stages during the launch, and to ensure that the liquid propellants were in a proper position to be drawn into the pumps.

S-IC first stage

Main article: S-IC
The first stage of Apollo 8Saturn V being erected in theVAB on February 1, 1968

The S-IC was built by The Boeing Company at the Michoud Assembly FacilityNew Orleans, where the Space Shuttle External Tanks would later be built by Lockheed Martin. Most of its mass of over 4,400,000 pounds (2,000 metric tons) at launch was propellantRP-1 fuel with liquid oxygen as oxidizer.[20] It was 138 feet (42 m) tall and 33 feet (10 m) in diameter, and provided over 7,600,000 pounds-force (34,000 kN) of thrust. The S-IC stage had a dry weight of about 289,000 pounds (131 metric tons) and fully fueled at launch had a total weight of 5,100,000 pounds (2,300 metric tons). It was powered by five Rocketdyne F-1 engines arrayed in a quincunx. The center engine was held in a fixed position, while the four outer engines could be hydraulically turned(gimballed) to steer the rocket.[20] In flight, the center engine was turned off about 26 seconds earlier than the outboard engines to limit acceleration. During launch, the S-IC fired its engines for 168 seconds (ignition occurred about 8.9 seconds before liftoff) and at engine cutoff, the vehicle was at an altitude of about 36 nautical miles (67 km), was downrange about 50 nautical miles (93 km), and was moving about 7,500 feet per second (2,300 m/s).[21]

S-II second stage

Main article: S-II
An S-II stage hoisted onto the A-2 test stand at the Mississippi Test Facility

The S-II was built by North American Aviation at Seal Beach, California. Using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, it had five Rocketdyne J-2 engines in a similar arrangement to the S-IC, also using the outer engines for control. The S-II was 81 feet 7 inches (24.87 m) tall with a diameter of 33 feet (10 m), identical to the S-IC, and thus was the largest cryogenic stage until the launch of the STS. The S-II had a dry weight of about 80,000 pounds (36,000 kg) and fully fueled, weighed 1,060,000 pounds (480,000 kg). The second stage accelerated the Saturn V through the upper atmosphere with 1,100,000 pounds-force (4,900 kN) of thrust in vacuum. When loaded, significantly more than 90 percent of the mass of the stage was propellant; however, the ultra-lightweight design had led to two failures in structural testing. Instead of having an intertank structure to separate the two fuel tanks as was done in the S-IC, the S-II used a common bulkhead that was constructed from both the top of the LOX tank and bottom of the LH2 tank. It consisted of two aluminum sheets separated by a honeycomb structure made of phenolic resin. This bulkhead had to insulate against the 126 °F (52 °C) temperature gradient between the two tanks. The use of a common bulkhead saved 7,900 pounds (3.6 t). Like the S-IC, the S-II was transported from its manufacturing plant to the Cape by sea.

S-IVB third stage

Main article: S-IVB
Cutaway drawing of the Saturn V S-IVB

The S-IVB was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company at Huntington Beach, California. It had one J-2 engine and used the same fuel as the S-II. The S-IVB used a common bulkhead to insulate the two tanks. It was 58 feet 7 inches (17.86 m) tall with a diameter of 21 feet 8 inches (6.604 m) and was also designed with high mass efficiency, though not quite as aggressively as the S-II. The S-IVB had a dry weight of about 23,000 pounds (10,000 kg) and, fully fueled, weighed about 262,000 pounds (119,000 kg).[22]

The S-IVB-500 model used on the Saturn V differed from the S-IVB-200 used as the second stage of the Saturn IB, in that the engine was restartable once per mission. This was necessary as the stage would be used twice during a lunar mission: first in a 2.5 min burn for the orbit insertion after second stage cutoff, and later for the trans-lunar injection (TLI) burn, lasting about 6 min. Two liquid-fueled Auxiliary Propulsion System (APS) units mounted at the aft end of the stage were used for attitude control during the parking orbit and the trans-lunar phases of the mission. The two APSs were also used as ullage engines to settle the propellants in the aft tank engine feed lines prior to the trans-lunar injection burn.

The S-IVB was the only rocket stage of the Saturn V small enough to be transported by plane, in this case the Pregnant Guppy.

Instrument Unit

The Instrument Unit for the Apollo 4Saturn V

The Instrument Unit was built by IBM and rode atop the third stage. It was constructed at the Space Systems Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This computer controlled the operations of the rocket from just before liftoff until the S-IVB was discarded. It included guidance and telemetry systems for the rocket. By measuring the acceleration and vehicle attitude, it could calculate the position and velocity of the rocket and correct for any deviations.

Range safety

In the event of an abort requiring the destruction of the rocket, the range safety officer would remotely shut down the engines and after several seconds send another command for the shaped explosive charges attached to the outer surfaces of the rocket to detonate. These would make cuts in fuel and oxidizer tanks to disperse the fuel quickly and to minimize mixing. The pause between these actions would give time for the crew to escape using the Launch Escape Tower or (in the later stages of the flight) the propulsion system of the Service module. A third command, "safe", was used after the S-IVB stage reached orbit to irreversibly deactivate the self-destruct system. The system was also inactive as long as the rocket was still on the launch pad.[23]

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Click on each image for a closer look

Cut-away Apollo display

Saturn V

The Large Light Tent is 80cm Tall...

Broken in half...

Box art:

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