Saturn Illustrated Chronology - Part 3
January 1962 through December 1962
Assembly of the SA-4 flight booster began January 2, 1962.
The SA-3 booster successfully completed functional and engine pressure
tests and entered pre-static checkout on January 8, 1962.43
43. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 62, p. 4.
NASA announced on January 24 that Aerojet General Corporation
had been selected for design and development of a new liquid hydrogen engine.
The engine, known as the M-1, was to power the second stage of the Nova
launch vehicle. Its thrust would be 1,200,000 pounds.
MSFC awarded a contract to Consteel-Ets-Hokin late in
January for the construction of the umbilical tower for Launch Complex
34 at Cape Canaveral. The tower would carry the electrical, pneumatic,
and hydraulic connections used in fueling and servicing upper stages.44
44. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 62, p. 35.
On January 25, 1962, NASA approved development of the three-stage
Saturn C-5 vehicle under the direction of MSFC. The vehicle would support
manned circumlunar flights and manned landings by earth or lunar orbit
rendezvous method. The C-5 was expected to be capable of placing 120 tons
in low earth orbit or escaping 45 tons to the vicinity of the moon.45
45. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 62, p. 23.
93. Saturn C-5
On February 6, 1962, a 46-second C-1 booster test firing
was successfully conducted at MSFC. Stages of the Saturn SA-2 flight vehicle
departed Huntsville on February 16 for Cape Canaveral. The vehicle arrived
at Cape Canaveral on February 27, 1962, and by March 1 the vehicle was
erected on the launch pad of Launch Complex 34. A static firing of the
SA-T3 booster was conducted on February 20, 1962. The test, scheduled to
last until LOX depletion cutoff, was terminated at 55 seconds due to a
fire indication at engine No. 6. No damage resulted.46
46. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 62, pp. 10-11;
MSFC Test Div., "Test Division Hist. Report, Jan. 1-June 30, 1962," p.
||94. SA-2 erected on launch
On February 9 a preliminary contract was awarded the
Space and Information Systems Division (S&ID), North American Aviation,
to design, develop, and fabricate the S-II stage of the C-5 vehicle. MSFC
signed a preliminary S-IC development contract with the Boeing Company
on February 14.47
47. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 62, p. 27.
On March 4 NASA selected Sverdrup Parcell Company to provide
design criteria and initial planning for the test facilities at the Mississippi
48. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 62, p. 38.
||95. Regional map showing
Mississippi Test Facility
96. S-IV All-systems vehicle
On March 19 the booster for the SA-3 flight vehicle was
installed in the test tower, and preparations were begun for the first
flight qualification test.49 At Douglas Aircraft structural
assembly of the first all-systems vehicle was completed in March 1962.
The all-systems vehicle, a heavily instrumented configuration of the second
(S-IV) stage, would be used to check out all operating S-IV systems.
49. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 62, p. 4.
On March 19, 1962, the Seal Beach, California, site was reconfirmed
as the location of the S-II stage major manufacturing and assembly activities.
Testing of prototype stages would be performed at Santa Susana, California.
Stage acceptance testing would be conducted at the Mississippi Test Operations.
Late in March a construction contract was awarded for construction of a
second launch area at the Saturn Launch Complex 37, Cape Canaveral. Construction
began early in April.
||97. Construction of Launch
On April 10, 1962, the SA-3 booster successfully performed
its first flight qualification test in a static firing of 31 seconds duration.50
On the same day representatives of 13 companies attended a preproposal
conference at MSFC concerning the Nova launch vehicle designs. Submittal
of bids was required late in the month.
50. MSFC SSO, Saturn Monthly Progress Report (April
12, 1962-May 12, 1962) p. 5. Hereinafter cited as MSFC SSO, Saturn
MPR, Apr. 12-May 12, 1962, p. 5.
The large liquid hydrogen engine, J-2, which would power
the S-II and S-IVB stages for advanced Saturn vehicles, reached 90 percent
sea-level thrust in its initial hot firing tests on April 11. On the same
day the huge F-1 engine, being developed to power the S-IC stage, performed
a successful 150-second static firing.51
51. MSFC SSO, Saturn MPR, Apr. 12-May 12, 1962, pp. 12-13;
May 14-June 12, 1962, p. 11.
In mid-April reconstruction of the Wheeler Dam lock on the
Tennessee River was completed; transportation of Saturn flight stages could
be made without land detour.52
52. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 62, p. 38.
NASA Headquarters announced on April 18 that the highest
national priority (DX) had been approved for the Apollo, Saturn C-1, and
Saturn C-5. The priority included all stages, engines, facilities, and
related construction for production, test, research, launch, and instrumentation.53
53. NASA, Priorities and Requirements Branch, to All
Field Installations, letter, subj: "Apollo Program Priority," Apr. 18,
NASA launched the second Saturn flight vehicle, the SA-2,
from Cape Canaveral on April 25. As with the SA-1, the vehicle was launched
without a technical hold during the 10-hour countdown. This vehicle had
a secondary mission. After first stage shutoff at 65 miles altitude the
water-filled upper stages were exploded, dumping 95 tons of water in the
upper atmosphere. The massive ice cloud produced rose to a height of 90
miles. The experiment, called Project High Water, was performed to investigate
the effects on the ionosphere of the sudden release of such a great volume
of water. This experiment did not interfere with the major goal of the
flight which was achieved when the first-stage engines burned out 116 seconds
after launch. Every phase of the flight was considered successful.54
54. Dr. Kurt Debus, NASA LOD Dir., to Dir., MSFC, et
al., teletype, subj: "Post Firing Report, Saturn Vehicle SA-2," Apr.
25, 1962; MSFC SSO, Saturn MPR, Apr. 12-May 12, 1962, pp. 2-3; MSFC
P&VE Div., Saturn SA-2 Data Book, SA-2 Flight Report Supplement
(MTP-P&VE-E-61-5), May 11, 1962; MSFC, Chief Vehicle Systems Integration
Office to Distribution, memo, subj: "Saturn SA-2 Flight Report Supplement,"
May 11, 1962.
98. Launch of Saturn SA-2
A 31-second duration eight-engine test of the SA-3 flight
booster was conducted on May 17 with excellent overall performance.55
The final SA-3 booster acceptance firing test was performed on May 24 for
a duration of 119 seconds.56
55. MSFC Test Div., Test Division Monthly Progress
Report, May 12, 1962-June 12, 1962, p. 1. Hereafter cited as MSFC Test
Div., Test Division MPR, May 12-June 12, 1962.
56. MSFC Test Div., Test Division MPR, May 12-June
12, 1962, p. 1.
On May 26, 1962, Rocketdyne successfully conducted the first
F-1 engine test. On the same day SA-4 booster fabrication
57. Claude J. Bowen, MSFC SSO, interviewed June 13, 1962.
||99. Static firing of F-1
100. C-1 first stage test
In mid-May MSFC directed Douglas to produce a 260-inch-diameter
S-IVB stage. The increase of 40 inches over the initially planned diameter
permitted development of a more optimum sized stage. Also during May the
Center decided to increase S-II stage length from 75 feet to 81.5 feet
and decrease the S-IC stage length from 141 feet to 138 feet.
On June 5 MSFC contracted to modify the Saturn C-1 booster
static test stand at MSFC. The stand, originally built to test the Redstone
and Jupiter missiles and later modified for Saturn testing, would provide
test positions for two C-1 first stages.58
58. MSFC SSO, Saturn MPR, May 14-June 12, 1962,
On June 9 Pratt & Whitney completed preliminary flight
rating tests of the RL10-A-3 engine for the Saturn C-1 second stage. All
test objectives were successfully met. At MSFC the first SA-4 test booster
static firing was successfully conducted on June 18 for a duration of 31
59. MSFC Test Div., "Test Division Hist. Report, Jan
1-June 30, 1962," p. 1.
|During June bids were requested for construction
of a static test stand to captive fire the Saturn C-5 booster. The stand,
to be located at MSFC, would provide handling equipment and thrust restraint
for boosters up to 178 feet in length, 48 feet in diameter, and with thrust
of up to 7.5 million pounds. Including a crane at the top, the tower would
stand 405 feet high, more than twice as tall as the present Saturn C-1
booster test stand.
NASA and Rocketdyne signed letter contracts on July 2 for
further development and production of the F-1 and J-2 engines. The contracts,
extending through 1965, cover long lead-time items in F-1 engine research
and development and early production effort on F-1 and J-2 engines. On
July 7 SA-5 flight booster assembly began at MSFC.60
60. Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director, MSFC, "Statement
before Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight, Committee on Science and Astronautics,
House of Representatives," Mar. 18, 1963.
A new Saturn vehicle was needed. NASA announced on July 11
that a new, two-stage Saturn-class vehicle would be developed for manned
earth-orbital missions with full-scale Apollo spacecraft.61
The Saturn would be known as the Saturn C-1B. Simultaneously, NASA announced
selection of lunar orbit rendezvous as the method for performing the manned
lunar landing. This lunar rendezvous mode would require the use of only
one Saturn C-5 vehicle to inject the spacecraft into an earth-lunar trajectory.
The entire Apollo spacecraft would not land on the moon after its separation
from the launch vehicle's third stage. Rather, one unit of the spacecraft,
a lunar excursion module, or "bug," would land and later rejoin the rest
of the orbiting Apollo.
61. NASA News Release, July 11, 1962.
101. Saturn C-IB vehicle
|Meanwhile, progress on Saturn C-1 continued.
On July 12 the second static test of the SA-T4 stage was manually terminated
after 12 seconds; a broken ground instrumentation wire had caused an erroneous
pressure drop indication. Pressure measurement loss caused a premature
cutoff of a third SA-T4 static test conducted on July 13. A fourth firing
of 120 seconds duration was conducted on July 17; overall performance was
excellent. The stage was removed from the test stand on July 20, and MSFC
began uprating the engines to 188K thrust level. The uprated stage was
redesignated the SA-T4.5.62
62. MSFC Test Div., Test Division MPR, July 12-Aug.
12, 1962, p. 1.
||102. Launch Complex 39
On July 21 NASA Headquarters announced construction plans
for Launch Complex 39, Saturn C-5 launch facilities. The 350-foot-high
vehicle would be erected and checked out vertically in a special 48-storey
assembly building. Following checkout a 2,500-ton crawler vehicle would
move the Saturn C-5 to its launch pad.63
63. MSFC Sat. Office, Summary of C-5 Development Plan,
Jan. 15, 1963, p. 42.
||103. Saturn C-5 launch pad
In July NASA announced that a computer center would be
established at Slidell, Louisiana, to service the Michoud Operations. The
center, to be one of the nation's largest, would perform engineering calculations
necessary in the development, building, and static testing of the Saturn
C-1 and C-5 boosters.
||104. NASA Computer Center,
105. C-5 Dynamic Test
To assure C-5 strength, MSFC awarded a design contract
in July for a 360-foot-high dynamics test tower. The Saturn C-5 launch
vehicle would be suspended in the tower and vibrated by mechanical and
electrical means. This simulation of free-flight conditions would determine
the vehicle's natural bending modes.64
64. MSFC Test Div., Test Division MPR, July 12-Aug.
12, 1962, p. 12.
On August 6, 1962, NASA and Chrysler Corporation signed a
contract for production of 21 C-1 boosters, to be delivered between late
1964 and early 1966. The stages would be produced by Chrysler at the Michoud
Plant near New Orleans.65 On the same date NASA announced that
the Boeing Company had received a supplementary contract from MSFC for
work leading to design, development, fabrication, and test of the C-5 booster.
65. MSFC Michoud Operations, Historical Report, Michoud
Operations, July 1, 1962-December 31, 1962. Hereafter cited as MSFC
Michoud Op., Hist. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1962.
|A C-5 second stage contract for design, development,
fabrication, and testing of the S-IVB stages was awarded Douglas on August
8. The contract called for 11 of the stages: five for ground tests (two
of which would be used later as inert flight stages) and six for powered
66. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, July 13-Aug. 13, 1962,
Next, provision was made for C-5 guidance and control. On
August 13 MSFC selected the C-5 instrument unit design. The cylindrical
unit would measure 260 inches in diameter and stand 36 inches high. All
vehicle guidance and control equipment would be mounted on panels fastened
within this structure.
On August 15 NASA awarded Rocketdyne Division a two-year
contract to continue H-1 engine research and development. These first Saturn
booster engines would also be used in Saturn IB boosters.
C-1 second stage progress continued. On August 17 Douglas
performed the first S-IV battleship static firing at the Sacramento Test
Facility in California. The stage developed approximately 90,000 pounds
of thrust for a planned 10 seconds duration; all test objectives were met.
A successful full 420-second firing was performed on October 4. In the
final phase of testing a total of 11 tests were conducted, the last one
on November 8.
||106. S-IV battleship static
107. S-IC static test stand
MSFC on August 31 awarded a contract for construction
in Huntsville of the S-IC static test stand superstructure.67
During August Phase I construction of the Launch Complex 34 umbilical tower
was completed at AMR. Also in August, MSFC received the Douglas preliminary
proposal covering modification of the S-IVB stage for use in the C-1B vehicle.
67. MSFC Test Div., Test Division MPR, Aug. 12-Sept.
12, 1962, pp. 10-11.
The SA-3 flight booster was shipped to Cape Canaveral on
September 9, arrived on September 19, and was erected on the launch pad
on September 21.68 By September 24 the inert upper stages and
payload had been erected on the booster.
68. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Sept. 15-Oct. 15,
1962, p. 3.
Early in September ground breaking ceremonies were held at
Seal Beach, California, where assembly and test facilities for the second
(S-II) stage of Saturn C-5 would be. The S-II facility would be constructed
by the Navy and operated by North American Aviation's S&ID.
||108. S-II stage assembly
109. President Kennedy
On September 11 President Kennedy and Vice President
Johnson, with other key Government officials, visited MSFC as part of a
two-day tour of four U.S. space centers.
On September 15 Michoud technicians installed a 42-foot
boring mill, the largest known, for use in C-5 production.69
Also in mid-September, MSFC provided Douglas 90-day program authorization
to investigate minimum changes necessary to adapt C-5 third stages to C-IB.
Douglas would also study attachment of the S-IVB stages to the C-1 booster,
as well as separation during flight.
69. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Aug. 14-Sept. 14,
1962, p. 12.
||110. Installation of 42-foot
On September 25 assembly began of the SA-6 flight booster.
Meanwhile, preliminary plans were completed for development of the Mississippi
Test Operations. First phase of the three-phase program included building
two test stands each for static firing the S-IC and S-II stages and about
20 service and support buildings. Improvement of approximately 15 miles
of river channel and construction of a canal within the test facility would
permit transportation of stages from Michoud to Mississippi Test Operations
||111. Mississippi Test
112. Dual plane separation
All objectives were met during the second SA-4 booster
flight qualification static firing on September 26. A record burning time
was set when the inboard engines operated for 121.5 seconds and the outboard
engines for 127.43 seconds. The SA-4 booster was removed from the static
test tower on October 1; post-static checkout began.70 On the
same day MSFC let a contract for construction of the vertical assembly
building foundation at Michoud.71
70. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Nov. 12-Dec. 14, 1962,
71. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Sept. 15-Oct. 15,
1962, p. 11.
During September MSFC directed S&ID to develop a plan
for C-5 dual plane separation. In dual plane separation, S-IC separation
would be followed by separation of the S-II interstage.
The first industry-produced booster was started October 4
at Michoud when Chrysler began fabrication of S-I-8, the first of 21 Saturn
C-1 boosters it was scheduled to produce.
Two J-2 engine full-thrust firing tests, of 50 and 94
seconds duration respectively, were successfully performed prior to a long-duration
static firing on October 4. The long-duration engine test conducted by
Rocketdyne was satisfactory throughout the scheduled 250 seconds operation.72
A second long-duration test of 220 seconds was successfully conducted on
October 6 at the Santa Susana Test Facility.
72. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Sept. 15-Oct. 15,
1962, pp. 5-6.
During October MSFC began tests on the C-1 uprated test stage
SA-T4.5. Tests were to check the integrity of the propulsion system and
effect of the 188K engines on the flame deflector. After tests were successfully
concluded the stage went to Michoud for use in checking out facilities.
MSFC awarded a Saturn C-5 contract on October 5 for construction
in Huntsville of a combined S-IC stage vertical assembly building and hydrostatic
test tower.73 NASA Headquarters approved on October 12 the Saturn
C-5 second stage (S-II) long-term research and development contract with
73. MSFC Press Release, Oct. 5, 1962.
74. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Sept. 15-Oct. 15,
1962, p. 9.
113. J-2 test facility
114. S-IC stage facility
|On October 15 NASA Headquarters approved
the Saturn C-5 vehicle development schedule, Plan V.75 The plan
includes funding and test program adjustments, assembly of the first S-IC
flight stage at MSFC, and launch and ground test schedule changes.
75. MSFC Sat. Off., Summary of C-5 Development Plan,
Jan. 15, 1963, p. 43.
In October NASA arranged to dredge an access channel to the
Saturn C-5 Complex 39 Vertical Assembly Building and Launch Pad area at
Merritt Island, Florida. On October 2 MSFC contracted for construction
of a flame deflector for the MSFC Saturn S-IC test stand.76
76. Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director, MSFC, "Statement
before Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight, Committee on Science and Astronautics,
House of Representatives," Mar. 18, 1963.
During October MSFC decided to fly a Jupiter-type payload
with the fifth Saturn flight.77 Saturn C-1 second stage progress
included completion of the S-IV hydrostatic/dynamic stage at Santa Monica.
It began its trip to MSFC via the Victory Ship Smith Builder on
October 26, was transferred to the barge Promise at New Orleans,
and delivered to MSFC on November 16 for six months of comprehensive dynamic
77. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Sept. 15-Oct. 15,
1962, p. 4.
78. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Nov. 12-Dec. 14, 1962,
The Launch Operations Center awarded a contract in October
to modify the Complex 34 fuel, LOX, and liquid nitrogen servicing systems
in preparation for Saturn C-1 Block II vehicle launches. SA-5 flight booster
assembly was completed on November 6 and the booster transferred for pre-static
checkout.79 Assembly of the SA-5D booster for dynamics testing
was completed on October 29. This stage was installed in the MSFC dynamics
test tower on November 13, 1962. The SA-D5 booster simulated configuration
of the final Saturn C-1 boosters which were expected to be used for manned
79. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Nov. 12-Dec. 14, 1962,
115. SA-5 configuration
116. Unloading S-IV stage
During November Douglas awarded subcontractors for development
of the S-IVB's 1,750-pound thrust ullage motors and 150-pound thrust attitude
On November 8 the last S-IV battleship test with RL10-A-1
engines was completed at SACTO; 11 tests totaling 1,137.6 seconds were
accomplished. The A-1 engines were then removed and installation began
of RL10-A-3 operational-type engines for the next phase of battleship hot
80. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Oct. 16-Nov. 12, 1962,
Cost negotiations between MSFC and Boeing began on November
15 for the long-term S-IC stage development and production contract.
The third Saturn flew on November 16. SA-3 was successfully
launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a full propellant load of 750,000
pounds. It rose to a height of about 104 miles. Flight range was 131 statute
miles. Inboard engine cutoff occurred as planned after 141 seconds of flight;
outboard engine cutoff came eight seconds later. Project High Water was
performed as a secondary mission on SA-3 as on SA-2.81
81. MSFC P&VE Division, "Saturn SA-3 Flight Report
Supplement," Dec. 7, 1962; Dr. Kurt H. Debus, Dir., LOC, to Dir., MSFC,
teletype, Nov. 16, 1962; MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Oct. 16-Nov. 12,
1962, p. 3.
On December 13 a contract was awarded for the construction
of the Michoud S-IC Hydrostatic Test and Vertical Assembly Building. Also
at Michoud, Chrysler Corporation began fabrication of the tenth and final
research and development Saturn booster, S-I-10.82
82. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Nov. 12-Dec. 14, 1962,
||117. Launch of SA-3 Flight
118. Vertical Assembly
Building at Michoud
In December design of Marshall's C-5 dynamic test tower
was completed; Douglas awarded a contract for fabrication of the S-IVB
battleship tank; and, at Cape Canaveral, the Corps of Engineers awarded
a contract for design of the Launch Complex 39 Vertical Assembly Building.
||119. Launch Complex 39
Vertical Assembly Building
Initial checkout of the S-IV all-systems vehicle began
at Santa Monica in late December.83 Douglas began fabrication
of S-IV-111, the first production S-IV flight stage.
83. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Dec. 15-Jan. 16, 1963,
Rocketdyne studied causes of the F-1 engine combustion instability
first encountered during June 1962. Testing with modified engine hardware
began in the latter part of 1962 and was scheduled to continue during 1963.84
84. S. F. Morea, MSFC, P&VE Division, interviewed
Mar. 28, 1963.