National Geographic : 1964 Mar
In Mercury and Gemini, NASA has de pended upon boosters built for the Air Force. Without these rockets, as well as Air Force contractors and personnel, many of the space agency's achievements in unmanned as well as manned flightwould have been impossible. But NASA's future programs, particularly Apollo, demand boosters with a thrust be yond present Air Force needs, and the space agency is developing these superrockets. We have had a number of successful un manned test flights with the Saturn I, whose first stage is capable of 11/2 million pounds of thrust, more than quadruple the power of the Atlas. With a larger upper stage, this rocket will become the even more powerful Saturn I-B and will be used to send three-man Apollo crews into earth orbit for practice flights. But even these behemoths will be too puny for the lunar mission. That epochal voyage will require the Saturn V, a three-stage rock et towering 362 feet, nearly two-thirds the height of the Washington Monument in our Nation's Capital. Assembled and fueled on its launch pad, it will weigh 3,000 tons, about the weight of the nuclear submarine Nautilus. We haven't built this giant yet, although all components are under development by industrial contractors. To test its massive stages and engines, NASA is building a huge facility in southwestern Mississippi, only 35 miles from the manufacturing complex at Michoud, Louisiana, where the Saturn V will be assembled. Barges will carry the moon rocket to its final checkout and launching site, a new area adjacent to the famed pads of the Florida space center (pages 392-4). Contractors have logged hundreds of suc cessful test firings of Saturn V's ultrapower FIRST SATURN BLASTS OFF, AND A CASCADE OF FLAME ENVELOPS PAD 34 BEFORE HUMAN PASSENGERS climb aboard, NASA rockets must prove themselves with dummy cargoes. Carrying two mock upper stages atop the live booster, the 165-foot, eight-engine projectile leaped 90 miles high in October, 1961, and then splashed down 225 miles away in the Atlantic. ELEVEN FEET TALLER than the Statue of Liberty and twice as heavy, the second Saturn I receives a final checkout on the pad. Later, in a flawless flight, it generated 1,300,000 pounds of thrust. Although four times more powerful than Atlas, it is far less powerful than Saturn V (page 375). 8 EKTACOLORBY NASA (LEFT) AND KODACHROMEBY 37 OTIS IMBODEN © N.G .S .