Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterIf the Apollo Program of the 60′s and 70′s was an amazing display of man’s capability to develop technologies in a short period of time, then the Saturn 5 rocket was one helluva powerful piece of technology.
The Saturn 5 or Saturn V rocket was the booster that allowed Apollo spacecrafts to blast their way into outer space and land on the Moon. Described as a multistage liquid-fuel expendable rocket, the Saturn 5 was made up of three stages – the S-IC, the S-II, and the S-IVB.
All three of them used LOX or liquid oxygen as an oxidizing agent, with the S-IC using RP-1 and the other two using LH2 (liquid hydrogen) for fuel.
Due to the enormity and urgency of the project surrounding the development of the Saturn 5, multiple companies were contracted to build it. Boeing built the S-IC or the first stage of the Saturn 5, North American Aviation took care of the second stage or S-II , while Douglas Aircraft built the third stage or S-IVB.
As a result, the different stages were developed in different places. The Boeing team worked at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, the North American Aviation team at Seal Beach in California, and the Douglas Aircraft team at Huntington Beach in California.
Judging from the events that took place prior to its development, the time-frame given by the US government to the entire team in-charge of building the Saturn 5 was rather tight.
After Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space in 1961, which was also preceded by Sputnik 1 as the first satellite in space in 1957, it was clear that it would only be a matter of time before the Soviets would conquer the Moon … and win the Space Race virtually uncontested.
American President John F. Kennedy was more clear in establishing the deadline for landing on the Moon during his speech in front of a joint session of Congress – “before this decade is out”, he said on May 25, 1961.
Although the Soviets had more than a head-start in the race, the Americans had German rocket scientists (literally) on their side. In fact, the man who led the Saturn 5 team was no less than Wernher von Braun, the widely recognized top rocket engineer of the 20th Century.
Few, if any, large-scale technological advancements could match the rapid pace as well as the end result in building the Saturn 5.
Episodes about the moon from Astronomy Cast. Lend us your ears!
Shooting Lasers at the Moon and Losing Contact with Rovers
The Moon Part I