Editor’s note:We posted this yesterday only to find that the original video we used had been pulled. Now, we’ve reposted the article with a new and improved version of the video, thanks to Spacecraft Films.
To the moon! The goal people most remember from the Apollo program was setting foot on the surface of our closest neighbor. To get there required a heck of a lot of firepower, bundled in the Saturn V rocket. The video above gives you the unique treat of watching each rocket launch at the same time.
Some notes on the rockets you see:
Apollos 4 and 6 were uncrewed test flights.
Apollo 9 was an Earth-orbit flight to (principally) test the lunar module.
Apollo 8 and 10 were both flights around the moon (with no lunar landing).
Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 safely made it to the moon’s surface and back.
Skylab’s launch was also uncrewed; the Saturn V was used in this case to send a space station into Earth’s orbit that was used by three crews in the 1970s.
You don’t see Apollo 7 pictured here because it did not use the Saturn V rocket; it instead used the Saturn IB. It was an Earth-orbiting flight and the first successful manned one of the Apollo program. (Apollo 1 was the first scheduled crew, but the three men died in a launch pad fire.)
In a fitting testament to NASA’s momentous Apollo Moon Landing Program, NASA and billionaire Jeff Bezos confirmed today (July 19) the discovery of a powerful F-1 first stage engine component from the Saturn V moon rocket that launched three American astronauts on the historic journey of Apollo 11 to land the first two humans on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
“On the eve of the 44th moonwalk anniversary, the Bezos Expedition confirms an Apollo 11 Saturn V F1 engine find,” NASA officially announced on its websites just moments ago today, July 19.
Apollo 11 commander and NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, was immortalized forever when he first set foot on the moon 44 years ago tomorrow (July 20, 1969), followed minutes later by the lunar module pilot, NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
The Saturn V rockets first stage was powered by a cluster of five F-1 engines – a technological marvel and the most powerful single-nozzle, liquid-fueled rocket engine ever developed.
“44 years ago tomorrow Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, and now we have recovered a critical technological marvel that made it all possible,” says Bezos on his Expedition website today.
Bezos, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the aerospace company Blue Origin and Amazon.com, originally announced the discovery and recovery of significant components of two flown F-1 engines amongst a field of twisted wreckage from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in March of this year, aboard the Seabed Worker at Port Canaveral, Florida, along with a treasure trove of other major Saturn V components hauled up from a depth of almost 3 miles.
“We brought back thrust chambers, gas generators, injectors, heat exchangers, turbines, fuel manifolds and dozens of other artifacts – all simply gorgeous and a striking testament to the Apollo program,” wrote Bezos in a update this morning, July 19.
But until today, the engines exact identification remained elusive because of decades of severe seabed corrosion and their fiery, destructive end upon plunging and smashing unimpeded onto the ocean’s surface.
Conservators from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas worked painstakingly since March to identify the F-1 engine parts.
“Today, I’m thrilled to share some exciting news. One of the conservators who was scanning the objects with a black light and a special lens filter has made a breakthrough discovery – “2044” – stenciled in black paint on the side of one of the massive thrust chambers, says Bezos.
“2044 is the Rocketdyne serial number that correlates to NASA number 6044, which is the serial number for F-1 Engine #5 from Apollo 11. The intrepid conservator kept digging for more evidence, and after removing more corrosion at the base of the same thrust chamber, he found it – “Unit No 2044” – stamped into the metal surface.”
Apollo 11 launched to the Moon on July 16, 1969 from Launch Complex 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Sea of Tranquility inside the Lunar Module. They took a single lunar excursion and spent 2 hours and 11 minutes as the first two men to walk on the moon. They stayed on the moon for a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes before blasting off for the journey back home to Earth.
Armstrong suddenly passed away nearly a year ago on August 25, 2012 at age 82 – read my stories, here and here.
Aldrin is still active and strenuously advocating for starting human expeditions to the Red Planet.
He outlined his exploration concepts in a newly published book titled – “Mission to Mars.”
The five F-1 engines used in the 138-foot-tall Saturn V first stage known as the S-IC generated 7.5 million pounds of liftoff thrust, or some 1.5 million pounds each. They stand 19 feet tall by 12 feet wide. Each one weighs over 18,000 pounds and was manufactured by Rocketdyne.
The F-1 had more power than all three space shuttle main engines combined. They burned a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene fuel for two-and-one-half-minutes, carrying the Saturn V to an altitude of some 36 miles.
Altogether, six Apollo Moon landing flights boosted by Saturn V’s sent a total of 12 humans on moon walking expeditions to Earth’s nearest neighbor during the 1960s and 1970s.
“This is a big milestone for the project and the whole team couldn’t be more excited to share it with you all,” Bezos wrote.
Bezos’ Blue Origin firm is also working to develop a commercial rocket and ‘space taxi’ to finally resume launching American astronauts back to low Earth orbit from American soil after a multi year gap.
More than four decades have passed since the last humans traversed the lunar surface in December 1972 during NASA’s Apollo 17 moon landing mission.
After all that time, the F-1 may yet live again.
NASA is now working on an upgraded F-1 to power a future variant of the new SLS heavy lift booster under development and intended to launch humans aboard the new Orion crew capsule back to the Moon and to deep space destinations including Asteroids and Mars.
NASA Orion spacecraft blasts off atop 1st Space Launch System rocket in 2017 – attached to European provided service module – on an ambitious mission to explore Deep Space some 40,000 miles beyond the Moon, where an asteroid could be relocated as early as 2021. Credit: NASA Story updated with further details[/caption]
NASA managers have announced a bold new plan to significantly alter and upgrade the goals and complexity of the 1st mission of the integrated Orion/Space Launch System (SLS) human exploration architecture – planned for blastoff in late 2017.
The ambitious first flight, called Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), would be targeted to send an unpiloted Orion spacecraft to a point more than 40,000 miles (70,000 kilometers) beyond the Moon as a forerunner supporting NASA’s new Asteroid Redirect Initiative – recently approved by the Obama Administration.
The EM-1 flight will now serve as an elaborate harbinger to NASA’s likewise enhanced EM-2 mission, which would dispatch a crew of astronauts for up close investigation of a small Near Earth Asteroid relocated to the Moon’s vicinity.
Until recently NASA’s plan had been to launch the first crewed Orion atop the 2nd SLS rocket in 2021 to a high orbit around the moon on the EM-2 mission, said NASA Associate Administrator Lori Garver in an prior interview with me at the Kennedy Space Center.
The enhanced EM-1 flight would involve launching an unmanned Orion, fully integrated with the Block 1 SLS to a Deep Retrograde Orbit (DRO) near the moon, a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where an asteroid could be moved to as early as 2021.
Orion’s mission duration would be nearly tripled to 25 days from the original 10 days.
“The EM-1 mission with include approximately nine days outbound, three to six days in deep retrograde orbit and nine days back,” Brandi Dean, NASA Johnson Space Center spokeswoman told Universe Today exclusively.
The proposed much more technologically difficult EM-1 mission would allow for an exceptionally more vigorous work out and evaluation of the design of all flight systems for both Orion and SLS before risking a flight with humans aboard.
A slew of additional thruster firings would exercise the engines to change orbital parameters outbound, around the moon and inbound for reentry.
The current Deep Retrograde Orbit (DRO) plan includes several thruster firings from the Orion service module, including a powered lunar flyby, an insertion at DRO, an extraction maneuver from the DRO and a powered flyby on return to Earth.
Orion would be outfitted with sensors to collect a wide variety of measurements to evaluate its operation in the harsh space environment.
“EM-1 will have a compliment of both operational flight instrumentation and development flight instrumentation. This instrumentation suite gives us the ability to measure many attributes of system functionality and performance, including thermal, stress, displacement, acceleration, pressure and radiation,” Dean told me.
The EM-1 flight has many years of planning and development ahead and further revisions prior to the 2017 liftoff are likely.
“Final flight test objectives and the exact set of instrumentation required to meet those objectives is currently under development,” Dean explained.
Orion is NASA’s next generation manned space vehicle following the retirement of NASA’s trio of Space Shuttles in 2011.
The SLS launcher will be the most powerful and capable rocket ever built by humans – exceeding the liftoff thrust of the Apollo era Moon landing booster, the mighty Saturn V.
“We sent Apollo around the moon before we landed on it and tested the space shuttle’s landing performance before it ever returned from space.” said Dan Dumbacher, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, in a statement.
“We’ve always planned for EM-1 to serve as the first test of SLS and Orion together and as a critical step in preparing for crewed flights. This change still gives us that opportunity and also gives us a chance to test operations planning ahead of our mission to a relocated asteroid.”
Both Orion and SLS are under active and accelerating development by NASA and its industrial partners.
The 1st Orion capsule is slated to blast off on the unpiloted EFT-1 test flight in September 2014 atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket on a two orbit test flight to an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth’s surface.
It will then reenter Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of about 20,000 MPH (11 km/sec) and endure temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit in a critical test designed to evaluate the performance of Orion’s heatshield and numerous spacecraft systems.
Orion EFT-1 is already under construction at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) by prime contractor Lockheed Martin – read my earlier story here.
Integration and stacking tests with Orion’s emergency Launch Abort System are also in progress at KSC – details here.
NASA says the SLS is also in the midst of a extensive review process called the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to ensure that all launch vehicle components and systems will achieve the specified performance targets and be completed in time to meet the 2017 launch date. The PDR will be completed later this summer.
NASA’s goal with Orion/SLS is to send humans to the Moon and other Deep Space destinations like Asteroids and Mars for the first time in over forty years since the final manned lunar landing by Apollo 17 back in 1972.
NASA Headquarters will make a final decision on upgrading the EM-1 mission after extensive technical reviews this summer.
View of NASA’s Skylab Orbital Workshop in Earth orbit as photographed during departure of its last astronaut crew on Slylab 4 mission for the return home in Apollo capsule.
See photo gallery below
Watch the recorded NASA Skylab 40th Anniversary discussion on YouTube – below[/caption]
Skylab was America’s first space station. The massive orbital workshop was launched unmanned to Earth orbit 40 years ago on May 14, 1973 atop the last of NASA’s Saturn V rockets that successfully lofted American’s astronauts on the historic lunar landings of the Apollo-era.
Three manned Apollo crews comprising three astronauts each ultimately lived and worked and conducted groundbreaking science experiments aboard Skylab for a total of 171 days from May 1973 to February 1974. Skylab paved the way for long duration human spaceflight and the ISS (International Space Station)
On May 13, NASA commemorated the 40th anniversary of Skylab’s liftoff with a special roundtable discussion broadcast live on NASA TV. The event started at 2:30 PM EDT and originated from NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Participants included Skylab and current ISS astronauts and NASA human spaceflight managers.
Watch the recorded NASA Skylab 40th Anniversary briefing on YouTube – below.
The Skylab project was hugely successful in accomplishing some 300 science experiments despite suffering a near death crisis in its first moments.
Shortly after blastoff of the Saturn V from Launch Complex 39A the station was severely crippled when launch vibrations completely ripped off one of the stations two side mounted power generating solar panels.
The micrometeoroid shield that protected the orbiting lab from intense solar heating was also torn away and lost. This caused the workshop’s internal temperatures to skyrocket to an uninhabitable temperature of 52 degrees Celsius (126 degrees F).
Furthermore, a piece of the shield had wrapped around the other solar panel which prevented its deployment, starving the station of desperately required electrical power.
All nine astronauts that worked on Skylab were launched on the smaller Saturn 1B rocket from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center.
The launch of the first crew was delayed by 10 days while teams of engineers at NASA devised a rescue plan to save the station. Engineers also ‘rolled’ Skylab to an attitude that minimized the unrelenting solar baking.
The first crew aboard Skylab 2 launched on May 25, 1973 and successfully carried out three emergency spacewalks that salvaged the station and proved the value of humans in space. They freed the one remaining stuck solar panel and deployed a large fold out parasol sun shade through a science airlock that cooled the lab to a livable temperature of 23.8 degrees C (75 degrees F).
The Skylab 2 crew of Apollo 12 moon walker Charles Conrad, Jr., Paul J. Weitz, and Joseph P. Kerwin spent 28 days and 50 minutes aboard the complex.
The outpost became fully operational on June 4, 1973 allowing all three crews to fully carry out hundreds of wide ranging science experiments involving Earth observations and resources studies, solar astronomy and biomedical studies on human adaption to zero gravity.
The second crew launched on the Skylab 3 mission on July 28, 1973. They comprised Apollo 12 moon walker Alan L. Bean, Jack R. Lousma and Owen K. Garriott and spent 59 days and 11 hours aboard the orbiting outpost. They conducted three EVAs totaling 13 hours, 43 minutes and deployed a larger and more stable sun shade.
The 3rd and last crew launched on Skylab 4 on Nov. 16, 1973. Astronauts Gerald P. Carr, William R. Pogue, Edward G. Gibson spent 84 days in space. Their science observations included Comet Kohoutek. They conducted four EVAs totaling 22 hours, 13 minutes.
Skylab was the size of a 3 bedroom house and far more spacious then the tiny Apollo capsules. The complex was 86.3 ft (26.3 m) long and 24.3 ft (7.4 m) in diameter. It weighed 169,950 pounds.
“Skylab took the first step of Americans living in space and doing useful science above the atmosphere at wavelengths not possible on the ground and for long duration periods,” said astronaut Owen Garriot, science pilot, Skylab 3.
Skylab was also the first time student experiments flew into space – for example the spiders ‘Anita and Arabella’ – and later led to a many educational initiatives and programs and innovative ideas.
The Skylab project taught NASA many lessons in designing and operating the ISS, said NASA astronaut Kevin Ford who was the Commander of the recently completed Expedition 34.
NASA had hoped to revisit Skylab with Space Shuttle crews in the late 1970’s. But the massive lab’s orbit degraded faster than expected and Skylab prematurely plummeted back to Earth and disintegrated on July 11, 1979.
See a photo gallery of views from the Skylab missions herein.
Be sure to follow today’s (May 13) undocking of the ISS Expedition 35 crew (Commander ‘extraordinaire’ Chris Hadfield, Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko) and return to Earth tonight aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule.
The ISS is a fantastic measure of just have far we have come in space since Skylab – with the US and Russia peacefully cooperating to accomplish far more than each can do alone.
Last year, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos announced that he had located some of the Apollo F-1 rocket engines and planned to recover them. He and his Bezos Expedition team were successful in recovering engines that helped power Apollo astronauts to the Moon and have now brought “a couple of your F-1s home,” Bezos said in a message to NASA. On the Bezos Expedition website, Bezos called the recovery “an incredible adventure.”
Here are some pictures and a video of the recovery:
NASA was happy about the recovery as well.
“This is a historic find and I congratulate the team for its determination and perseverance in the recovery of these important artifacts of our first efforts to send humans beyond Earth orbit,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden in a statement. “We look forward to the restoration of these engines by the Bezos team and applaud Jeff’s desire to make these historic artifacts available for public display.”
There is no indication so far from Bezos of which flight these engines were from. Last year when Bezos made his announcement, he said they had found the engines from Apollo 11, but it may be been difficult to determine exactly which flight the ones found were from. In total, NASA launched 65 F-1 engines, five per flight, on 13 Saturn V boosters between 1967 and 1973. Supposedly there would be serial numbers to make the identification of which flight these engines were from. Bezos indicated on his blog they were still on the ship, so perhaps the identification will come later.
Five F-1 engines were used in the 138-foot-tall S-IC, or first stage, of each Saturn V, which depended on the five-engine cluster for the 7.5 million pounds of thrust needed to lift it from the launch pad. Each of the engines stands 19 feet tall by 12 feet wide and weigh over 18,000 pounds.
Bezos and his team spent three weeks at sea, working almost 3 miles below the surface. “We found so much,” Bezos wrote. “We’ve seen an underwater wonderland – an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program. We photographed many beautiful objects in situ and have now recovered many prime pieces. Each piece we bring on deck conjures for me the thousands of engineers who worked together back then to do what for all time had been thought surely impossible.”
It was the end of an era. At 12:33 a.m. (EST) on Dec. 7, 1972 the monstrous Saturn V rocket blasted off for the final Apollo mission to the Moon. It was a stunning sight, as it was the first nighttime liftoff of the Saturn V. Aboard the Apollo 17 spacecraft were astronauts Gene Cernan, Ron Evans and Jack Schmitt.
Below are a couple of images and videos from the mission, one video is an overview of the mission, and the other is one of my favorite scenes:
Gene Cernan driving the lunar rover during the Apollo 17 mission on the Moon. Credit: NASA
Jack Schmitt with the lunar rover at the edge of Shorty Crater. Credit: NASA
The famous “Blue Marble” image of Earth taken by the Apollo 17 crew on Dec. 7, 1972. Credit: NASA
The Final Journey of the Saturn V, by Andrew R. Thomas and Paul N. Thomarios is a good book to add to this summer’s reading list. The nontechnical person should not be deterred by the title since the majority of the book covers the history of the rocket and the space race while the final chapter covers some of the details about the restoration process of the deteriorated Saturn V that weathered outside of Kennedy Space Center Florida for over a decade.
The authors do a great job explaining that during the Cold War the Soviet Union started to surpass the United States in in terms of rocketry and space exploration. For example, the Soviets launched the first satellite into Earth orbit, sent a probe to the Moon, launched the first rocket carrying a man that orbited the Earth, launched the first rocket carrying a woman that orbited the Earth and launched a rocket carrying the first man that walked in space.
All these first by the Soviets had a profound effect on Americans who finally realized that if the United States was going to have an influence in space exploration, they needed to get busy. And busy they got.
After a challenge from President Kennedy to put a man on the Moon and safely return him before the end of the 1960’s and a cash infusion from the United States government, NASA expanded operations that employed over 400,000 individuals who worked for NASA and its many subcontractors. The Saturn V rockets that would take over a dozen men to the moon and launch Skylab into orbit is the end result of the money, manpower and determination that drove the United States of America to take the lead in the space race after the slow start and second place status it held for several years.
Sadly, after making it to the moon several times the public grew tired of NASA and the Moon missions so funding for NASA dried up. Jobs were lost and equipment was neglected and misplaced. Locating and restoring the equipment and preserving it for future generations is covered in the last chapter.
Authors Thomas and Thomarios do a great job of keeping the book nontechnical so that the causal reader who has no science background can easily understand and enjoy it while keeping it interesting enough for the more experienced reader who specializes in the history of space flight.
A real plus for this book is an impressive foreword written by Captain Gene Cernan, Commander of Apollo 17 and the last man to have walked on the Moon. In addition to the foreword, there are many unique photographs ranging from those that made the Moon landings possible to the equipment involved and those in charge of restoring the Saturn V for our future generations.
Reviewer David Hamilton and his wife live in Conway, Arkansas. They are amateur astronomers that love spending nights stargazing. David is an Educational Technologist and a multidisciplinary researcher currently attending the University of Arkansas at Little as a graduate student. David is an alumni of the University of Oklahoma and Rose State College.
This is so cool – and impressive, most impressive! A 16mm camera located near the base of the Saturn V rocket captured incredible detail about the ignition and lift off of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. The high-quality video slows down 30 second of footage to about 8 minutes, but it’s worth every second to watch! The narrator explains it all in great detail. You’ll see the first moments of ignition where the flames light and expand, then get sucked back into the flame trench; and fire and ice all in one video. It really is awesome!