Saturn Illustrated Chronology - Part 2

January 1961 through December 1961



In January Convair Astronautics submitted a proposal for an S-V upper stage for the Saturn vehicle; however, later in the month Dr. von Braun proposed that the C-1 vehicle be changed from a three-stage to a two-stage configuration in support of the Apollo program. NASA decided to delete requirements for the S-V stage on C-1 vehicles.

On January 16 the booster stage for the SA-1 flight vehicle was moved from assembly to checkout. During January also, wind tunnel testing of a model Saturn booster began at the Arnold Engineering Development Center, Tullahoma, Tennessee; the tests were designed to study base heating phenomena of the clustered stage.

Saturn C-1 configuration30
SA-1 checkout31 30. Proposed Saturn C-1
Apollo configuration
31. SA-1 Checkout

Two additional studies began in January 1961. NASA awarded North American and Ryan Aeronautical Company contracts to investigate feasibility of recovering the S-I booster stage after the vehicle flight by using a Rogallo paraglider. A design contract was awarded for equipment which would be used at MSFC to check out the S-I stage automatically.

On January 25 a meeting was held at MSFC to study S-II stage requirements for the Saturn C-2 vehicle. S-II stage trajectory, performance, and structural analysis calculations were completed and made a part of the preliminary Saturn-Dyna Soar proposal.16
    16. MSFC Saturn Systems Office, Saturn Quarterly Progress Report (January-March 1961), May 8, 1961, p. 42. Hereafter cited as MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 61.
During January a dummy of the S-IV stage was completed at MSFC and moved to checkout. On January 31 MSFC static fired all eight engines of the SA-T1 test booster for 113 seconds.17
    17. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 61, p. 37-38.
Saturn recovery32C-2 second stage33

32. Saturn booster recovery
33. C-2 Second stage

Move of dummy S-IV to checkout34 34. Movement of dummy S-IV
stage to checkout


A dummy S-V stage, built for use on SA-1, was received from Convair on February 8 and mated to the dummy S-IV stage. The first horizontal assembly of the complete C-1 vehicle was accomplished during February. MSFC completed SA-T1 static tests on February 14. By February 27 Convair had provided MSFC with a second dummy S-V stage.18 This stage would first be used during dynamic tests of a complete dummy vehicle; later the dummy S-V would be used on a flight vehicle.
    18. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 61, p. 32 and 66.
Saturn I vehicle35 35. First horizontal mating
of the Saturn vehicle


Liquid hydrogen engine development problems led to studies early in March to determine the possibility of using the first-generation LR-115 type Centaur engine on the Saturn S-IV stage, rather than second-generation Centaur engine, the LR-119.

Meanwhile, the booster was removed from the test stand on March 2 and loaded aboard the Palaemon for river trials. Also on March 2, 1961, as a part of the booster recovery studies, tests began at Cape Canaveral to determine the feasibility of reusing H-1 engines after exposure to salt water.

Removal of booster from stand36 36. Removal of the booster
from the static test stand
37. Salt water test of H-1

Testing of H-1engine37

Construction work at Launch Complex 34 continued to progress satisfactorily, with the service structure, blockhouse, and gas facilities nearing completion.

On March 7 the SA-1 booster was moved to the MSFC static test stand for preflight checkout. On March 14 the Palaemon, carrying the SA-T1, left the MSFC dock on its first training trip. Following its return the test booster went to MSFC shops for modification to the SA-T2 configuration. Looking beyond the booster, MSFC began construction in March of a facility to be used in familiarizing personnel with the handling of liquid hydrogen. MSFC presented plans on March 23 to accelerate the C-2 program and recommended that a prime contractor be selected to develop the S-II stage. MSFC also recommended use of six LR-115 engines in the S-IV stage instead of four LR-119 engines. Pratt & Whitney would still be the supplying contractor. MSFC then proposed certain design changes in the S-I stage including an increase in propellant capacity, the addition of fins, and increased structural support for later versions of the booster.

Launch Complex 34 construction38
39PalaemonSaturn booster tail40 38. Facilities construction
at Launch Complex 34
39. The barge Palaemon
40. Redesigned tail of the
Saturn booster

On March 29, 1961, MSFC received NASA Headquarters approval for the six-engine configuration of the S-IV.19 On March 31 NASA approved acceleration of the C-2 program and development of the C-2 vehicle for a three-stage escape mission. MSFC was authorized to begin a two-phase procurement of an S-II stage.20
    19. MSFC SSO, C-1 Development Plan, p. 139.
    20. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 61, p. 42.
During March further decisions were made concerning engines for the S-IV stage. MSFC decided to redirect effort from development of the LR-119 to the RL10-A-1, an engine that could be used in common by both the Centaur and the S-IV stage.
S-IV configuration41

41. Six-engine configuration
of the S-IV stage


On April 10 NASA announced the Project Apollo objectives of developing an orbiting laboratory for the study of effects of radiation and prolonged weightlessness, first with animals and later with a three-man crew. During April Douglas reported that air transport for the S-IV stage was feasible. Douglas had been authorized in 1960 to study air transportation for S-IV stages. This would greatly reduce the time which would be required if the stages were moved by water from California to MSFC at Huntsville, and thence to Cape Canaveral, Florida. The use of gliders, blimps, and aircraft to carry the stages was also considered.
Apollo spacecraft concept42 42. Artist's concept of
Apollo capsule
43. Air transport of S-IV
44. Booster simulator being
loaded aboard Palaemon
45. Unloading simulator at
the Cape

Transportation of S-IV stage43
Booster transportation simulation44

Booster simulator at Cape45

On April 17 the Palaemon began its first trial run to Cape Canaveral. The barge carried a water-ballasted tank simulating the size and weight of the S-I booster, plus a dummy S-V stage for the SA-1. The barge reached Cape Canaveral on April 30. After rehearsing movement of the booster along roads at the Cape, the simulator was reloaded aboard the Palaemon. The dummy S-V stage remained at the Cape. On May 3 the barge began its return trip, arriving at the Redstone Arsenal dock May 15.21
    21. MSFC Test Division, Test Division's Contributions to Saturn Semiannual Technical Report (January 1 through June 30, 1961), unpub. rpt., pp. 16-17.
MSFC completed construction of the dynamic test tower on April 17, the same day that the Palaemon left for Florida. The dynamic tower permits checkout of the mechanical mating of the C-1 vehicle, and aids in determining the vehicle's natural bending characteristics and the effect of simulated flight vibrations.

MSFC held a Saturn S-II preproposal conference April 18; the first phase of S-II procurement was expected to begin during May. On April 21 Douglas reported to MSFC that the major problem in S-IV stage development was disposal of hydrogen gas generated during engine chilldown.

Palaemon route to Cape46

46. Route of the Palaemon
to Cape Canaveral
47. Installing dummy S-V in
Dynamic Test Tower

On April 29, 1961, the first flight qualification test (SA-01) of the SA-1 booster was successfully accomplished in an eight-engine, 30-second test. A second static firing of the SA-1 booster, May 5, 1961, was terminated prematurely because of a problem which caused a shutdown signal through the fire detection system.22 A third eight-engine static firing test of the SA-1 booster, performed May 11, lasted 111 seconds and was satisfactory. Meanwhile, assembly of the SA-2 flight vehicle continued, and fabrication of the LOX and fuel tanks for the SA-3 vehicle was begun.23
    22. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Apr.-June 61, p. 25.
    23. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Apr.-June 61, p. 25.


In May 1961 NASA Headquarters accepted MSFC's March proposal to incorporate design changes into the S-I stage of the C-1 vehicle. The changes would permit the C-1 to be used as a two- or three-stage vehicle possessing satisfactory safety requirements for the two-stage manned mission. This change eliminated the immediate need for an S-V stage with the C-1 except for possible special missions. Also during May 1961 MSFC began re-examination of the capabilities of the Saturn C-2 configuration to support lunar circumnavigation missions. Results of this examination indicated that a Saturn vehicle of even greater performance would be desirable.
Dummy S-I in test tower47

Flight booster in test stand48

Saturn vehicle configurations49 48. Positioning flight booster
in test stand
49. Configurations of Saturn
flight vehicles
50. Separation of upper
stages from booster
51. Model of the RL10-A-3

On May 18 the first phase of S-II procurement began when MSFC requested industry to prepare capability proposals for the design and development of the stage. Also during May Pratt & Whitney shipped a mockup of the RL10-A-3 engine to Douglas and Convair for checks to assure that the engine was physically compatible with both the S-IV stage and the Centaur vehicle. Among other activities in May the Martin Company was awarded a contract to study launch vehicle systems which could be used in lunar exploration beyond the initial Project Apollo flights. These studies included transportation systems for a lunar landing and immediate return for three men, a thirty-day stay on the moon for three men, and a permanent moon base to accommodate 10 to 12 men.

MSFC tested the S-IV dummy stage for the SA-1 flight vehicle May 20-25, 1961. After successful testing the Center began to ready the stage for shipment to Cape Canaveral.

Saturn I staging50Model of RL10-A-3 engine51
Dummy S-IV stage testing52 52. Testing of dummy S-IV
53. Sacramento test facility
54. Dummy Saturn vehicle in
dynamic test stand


Engine gimbal tests performed at MSFC during April and May had indicated the advisability of increasing the stiffness of the engine control support structure in the booster. To investigate this matter further, the control engine support structure of the S-I stage of the dynamic test vehicle was modified and a series of single-engine gimbal tests begun on May 29, 1961. As test results were of marginal satisfaction, a new type of actuator servo valve was installed. Further test results were satisfactory. The dummy booster was moved to the dynamic test stand early in June and, for the first time, vertically mated with dummy S-IV and S-V stages. The assembled vehicle was then readied for dynamic testing.24
    24. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Apr.-June 61, p. 26.
During May and June 1961 Douglas Aircraft had continued fabrication of full-scale mockups of S-IV stage sections. These mockups were used to check the mating of different sections of the stage and to determine equipment locations.
Sacramento test facility53

Dynamic test stand tests54

55Tail area mockupForward interstage mockup56 55. Tail Area mockup
56. Forward interstage mockup


During June construction of the liquid hydrogen test site neared completion at Douglas Aircraft's Sacramento Test Facility (SACTO). Utilizing LOX facilities existing from earlier programs, the site includes two 90,000-gallon liquid hydrogen storage tanks and test stands capable of testing S-IV hardware under a variety of conditions.

On June 2 a lock collapsed at the Wheeler Dam on the Tennessee River. All movement of river traffic was halted. Because the Palaemon was trapped in the upper river, MSFC decided to transport the booster in it overland to a point below the dam. There the stage would be reloaded on barge to continue the trip to Cape Canaveral. To support this plan MSFC obtained a Navy barge which had been mothballed at Pensacola, Florida. Necessary modifications began so that the new barge, renamed Compromise, could carry the S-I and dummy S-IV stages and dummy payload.

57. The barge Compromise


On June 5, 1961, Launch Complex 34 at Cape Canaveral was dedicated in a brief ceremony and turned over to NASA.25 In Huntsville final acceptance testing of the S-I stage for the first flight booster began on June 12, 1961. The first operation accomplished was the mechanical mating of the S-IV dummy stage. Design work for later Saturn vehicles also continued at MSFC. On June 15, 1961, a mockup of the new instrument unit portion of the vehicle was completed; this unit, containing guidance and instrumentation, would fly above the upper stages of the last five Saturn C-1 vehicles.
    25. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Apr.-June 61, p. 63.
58Launch Complex 34Launch Complex 34 blockhouse59 58. Launch Complex 34
59. Launch Complex 34,
blockhouse interior
60. Instrument unit mockup

On June 21 Phase II procurement of the S-II stage began. Four companies were invited to attend the Phase II meeting at MSFC and submit proposals.

After a meeting held in June with Douglas, MSFC directed that the S-IV stage be redesigned to incorporate chilldown venting through which accumulated hydrogen gas could be disposed.

Dr. von Braun announced on June 23 that further engineering design work on the C-2 configuration would be discontinued; effort would instead be redirected toward clarification of the Saturn C-3 and Nova concepts. Capabilities of the proposed C-3 configuration in supporting the Apollo mission would be determined.

Instrument Unit mockup60
61Comparison of SaturnNova configurations62 61. Comparison of Saturn
62. Possible Nova configurations
63. Proposed C-3/Apollo
64. Installation of SA-T2
in static test stand

On June 27 the first static test of the SA-T2 booster (the SA-T1 booster modified to the configuration of the SA-2 booster stage) was successfully accomplished at MSFC. This was an eight-engine, 30-second test to confirm effectiveness of the new actuator servo valve and the stiffening of the control engine support structure.26
    26. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Apr.-June 61, p. 38.
During the last week in June a contract was awarded to Chrysler Corporation for performance of qualification and reliability testing on various engine, hydraulic, mechanical, and structural components of the Saturn booster. Another contract was awarded in the same month for preliminary design of a facility to static test the J-2 engine.
63C-3/Apollo configurationSA-T2 in static test stand64


To commemorate the first anniversary of the Marshall Space Flight Center, an open house was held at the Center on July 1, 1961. Attending were such national figures as the NASA Administrator, James Webb; the Director of NASA Launch Vehicle Programs, Major General Don Ostrander; and numerous other national, state, and local dignitaries.
65von Braun, Webb and Ostrander
A few days later dynamic testing of SA-D1 began for the purpose of investigating the bending modes of the vehicle and also to continue studies into tank resonances initiated by Langley Research Center during June. While dynamic testing proceeded at MSFC, Rocketdyne in California began static firing tests of a complete F-1 engine. The engine would build up to 1.5 million pounds of thrust when perfected.

Early in July MSFC awarded a contract to Minneapolis-Honeywell for necessary engineering and manufacturing services to adapt the Centaur guidance set to Saturn requirements. Also in July, MSFC awarded a six-month contract to the Boeing Company to study the feasibility of creating huge vehicles by joining solid-propellant "super-boosters" with liquid-propellant upper stages.

66H-1 and F-1 enginesStatic firing of F-1 engine67
Proposed solid propellant boosters68 65. Dr. von Braun, James
E. Webb, and Maj. Gen.
66. H-1 and F-1 engine comparison
(H-1 at left)
67. Static firing of F-1
68. Proposed solid propellant
boosters for large space

During July MSFC successfully completed the second and third static firings of the SA-T2 test booster.27 These tests evaluated modifications to reduce engine structure vibration, evaluated flame curtain materials, and checked out a LOX depletion system similar to that used on SA-1. During the third test MSFC simulated for the first time the inflight engine cutoff sequence, that is, shutdown of the inboard engines six seconds before shutdown of the outboard engines.
    27. MSFC Historical Office, History of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, July-December 31, 1961, p. 29. Hereafter cited as MSFC Hist. Office, Hist. of Geo. C. Marshall Space Flight Center, July 1-Dec. 31, 1961.
MSFC awarded a contract to the Space Technology Laboratories, Inc., Los Angeles, California, during July, to investigate the relative merits and potential problems of assembling the giant Saturn boosters in horizontal and vertical positions. Other contracts awarded by the Center in July included qualification and reliability testing of Saturn ground support equipment, subsystems, and components, construction of a special assembly building at Cape Canaveral, and site development for the Center's new static test facility in Huntsville.
Static firing of SA-T269
MSFC static test facility70 69. Static firing of SA-T2
70. Concept of new static
test facility, MSFC
71. Artist's concept of
Apollo separation from
second stage

Also in July NASA's Space Task Group invited 12 companies to submit proposals for the manned lunar Apollo spacecraft. Meanwhile, the Center contemplated a nuclear-powered Saturn upper stage and awarded contracts for a six-month RIFT (reactor-in-flight test) design analysis to General Dynamics/Astronautics, Douglas Aircraft Company, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, and the Martin Company.

Assembly of the booster stage for the SA-3 vehicle began on July 31, 1961.28 The following day the SA-2 booster was transferred from the assembly area to checkout. On August 3 a planned 114-second static test of the SA-T2 booster was terminated after 1.2 seconds when instrumentation indicated an unacceptably high temperature of the LOX pump inlet on engine No. 1. The test was rescheduled for the following week. On August 7 the SA-T2 booster was successfully fired in a 124-second test.

    28. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, July-Sept. 61, p. 11.


Checkout of the SA-1 flight booster, started in June, was completed early in August.29 The booster stage, the dummy S-IV stage, and the dummy payload body were shielded with protective covers and loaded on their respective transporters. The stages and payload body were then moved from the MSFC shops to the docking facilities on the Tennessee River and loaded aboard the Palaemon. On August 5 the barge began the first leg of the trip to Cape Canaveral. At Wheeler Dam the units were unloaded, transported to a dock below the dam, and placed on the second barge, the Compromise, to continue the 2,200-mile trip to Florida. On August 15 the Compromise arrived at the Cape and unloaded her cargo; MSFC began assembling the first flight vehicle on the launch pedestal.30
    29. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, July-Sept. 61, p. 9.
    30. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, July-Sept. 61, p. 2.
Separation of Apollo from booster71

Saturn with nuclear stage72

73Booster movement to dockPayload movement at Wheeler Dam74

75Booster movement at Wheeler DamS-I and S-IV aboard Compromise76

Compromise at Cape77

72. Concept of Saturn with
nuclear powered stage
73. Booster movement to
docking facility
74. Payload movement
around Wheeler Dam
75. Booster movement
around Wheeler Dam
76. S-I and S-IV stages
aboard the Compromise
77. Unloading Compromise
in Florida

Early in August MSFC invited bids for the construction of a new Saturn launch complex (Launch Complex 37) at Cape Canaveral. Scheduled for completion in late 1962, the new complex would support the high launch rate planned for the Saturn vehicle.31
    31. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, July-Sept. 61, pp. 94-96.
An F-1 engine was fired on August 16 at Edwards Air Force Base; although the test was terminated after one and one-half seconds, the engine had built up one million pounds of thrust.

On August 24 NASA designated Cape Canaveral as the base for all manned lunar flights and other space missions requiring advanced launch vehicles. NASA would secure an 80,000-acre tract of land, increasing its total area in the vicinity to 97,000 acres. The additional land was needed because of the tremendous vibration and noise expected with later launch vehicles.

Saturn erection at Cape78
79S-IV erection at CapePayload erection at Cape80
78. First Saturn booster
erection at Cape Canaveral
79. S-IV erection at Cape
80. Payload body erection
into service structure
81. First Saturn assembled
on launch pedestal


On September 7 NASA selected the Government owned Michoud Ordnance Plant near New Orleans as the site for industrial production of the S-I stage. The plant would be operated by industry under the technical direction of MSFC. MSFC continued preparations for a conference to secure estimates from industry on production of the S-I stage.32
    32. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, July-Sept. 61, p. 49.
On September 11 NASA selected North American Aviation to develop and build the S-II stage for an advanced Saturn launch vehicle. The stage will be used in both manned and unmanned missions.

Army Engineers awarded a contract on September 13 for the construction of Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral. The complex would include a mobile steel tower, a blockhouse, and a cable tower on a 120-acre site at the north end of the Cape.

First Saturn on pad81
Launch Complex 3782 82. Saturn launch complex 37
83. Artist's concept of
launch pedestal for Launch
Complex 37

LC37 launch pedestal83

Michoud plant84 84. Michoud plant at New
85. Saturn SA-1 flight
vehicle on launch pedestal

By September 15, 1961, the SA-1 vehicle was completely assembled on the launch pedestal at Launch Complex 34. The service structure was moved back, leaving the Saturn standing as it would at launch.

On September 26 a preproposal conference was held at New Orleans to secure bids for industrial production of the S-I stage. Four days later, on September 30, a ground-breaking ceremony was held to begin construction of the Marshall Center's Central Laboratory and Office Building.


Testing continued in September and October at the Marshall liquid hydrogen test facility, where problems in the handling and use of liquid hydrogen are studied. The SA-2 flight booster was installed in the MSFC static test tower early in October. On October 10 a successful eight-engine, 33-second test (SA-04) was performed to check reliability and performance of booster and gimbal systems. Test SA-05 was successfully conducted on October 24 for a duration of 112 seconds. Test objectives included evaluation of the flight cutoff sequence.33
    33. MSFC Test Division, "Test Division's Historical Report: July 1, 1961-December 31, 1961," p. 1, in Volume Two of this report (Supporting Documents). Hereafter cited as MSFC Test Div., "Test Division Hist. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1961.
Saturn SA-1 on pad85


Late in October NASA selected a 13,550-acre site in Mississippi on which to build a facility for static testing advanced Saturn and Nova first stages. This location of the Mississippi Test Facility is only 35 miles from the Michoud Plant where industry would manufacture the S-I and S-IC stages.34
    34. NASA News Release 61-236, Oct. 25, 1961.
The first launch of the Saturn vehicle took place on October 27, 1961. The vehicle, 162 feet high and weighing 460 tons at liftoff, rose to a height of 85 miles during its journey. The inboard engines shut down after 109 seconds of burning; the outboard engines cut off six seconds later. The booster stage produced the 1,300,000 pounds of thrust intended for the first four flight tests. (On subsequent tests, the thrust would be increased to 1,500,000 pounds.) At a speed of approximately 3,600 miles per hour the Saturn followed a precalculated flight path to land within 13 miles of predicted impact, over 214 miles from Cape Canaveral. The launch was considered almost flawless.35
    35. NASA News Release 61-242, Oct. 31, 1961.
Launch of SA-186


On November 6, 1961, MSFC directed North American to redesign the S-II stage to incorporate five J-2 engines, providing a total of 1,000,000 pounds stage thrust.36
    36. Propulsion Project Office, P&VE Division, MSFC, to Chief, Engine Mgmt. Off., P&VE Div., MSFC, memo, subj: "Weekly Report of Significant Events," Nov. 11, 1961.
Work at the new large-booster static test stand at MSFC was interrupted in November for redesign of the stand to accept thrust levels of more than 7.5 million pounds.

On November 10, 1961, NASA received proposals from five firms for the development and production of the advanced Saturn booster.

NASA announced selection of Chrysler Corporation on November 17 to negotiate a contract to build, checkout, and test 20 S-I boosters. These boosters would be manufactured at the Michoud plant. The contract was signed in mid-January 1962.37

    37. Interview with Joe M. Jones, PIO, MSFC, Feb. 8, 1962.
86. Launch of Saturn SA-1
flight vehicle
87. S-II stage cutaway

S-II stage87

On November 19 the nation's first liquid hydrogen engine, the RL10, successfully completed its preliminary flight rating test. Producing 15,000 pounds thrust, the engine, designed and developed by Pratt & Whitney, performed about 30 percent better than engines using hydrocarbon fuels. Six such engines would power the Saturn S-IV stage.

NASA, on November 29, 1961, awarded North American Aviation a contract for the design and construction of its payload, a three-man spacecraft.

Marshall Space Flight Center and Manned Spacecraft Center planned to use the C-1 research and development vehicles for vehicle-payload compatibility tests and early systems tests of the spacecraft. The spacecraft was designated Apollo, also the name of the Saturn vehicle missions project.

The Apollo project would be divided into three basic missions: earth orbital flights, circumlunar flights, and manned landings on the moon. The two-stage Saturn C-1 was to support earth-orbital flights of prototype Apollo command modules during the 1964-1965 period. The advanced Saturn C-5 would support reentry and circumlunar Apollo flights.

Meanwhile, the SA-T3 test stage was installed in the test stand. On November 30, 1961, MSFC conducted a test to investigate flight cutoff sequencing, perform an "engine out" test, and study fuel and LOX tank levels. The test was prematurely cut off at 95 seconds by the automatic fire detection system. No hardware damage occurred. This was the first of a series of tests to verify SA-3 design improvements.38

    38. MSFC Test Div., "Test Division's Hist. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1961." in Volume Two of this report (Supporting Documents), p. 1.


The last of the Saturn 70-inch tanks to be manufactured by MSFC was completed the week of December 4. Future 70-inch tanks would be built by Chance-Vought in Dallas, Texas, and shipped initially to MSFC and later to Michoud for the Chrysler assembled stages.

On December 5, 1961, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)-NASA Space Nuclear Propulsion Office selected the Aetron Division of Aerojet-General Corporation's proposal as the basis for a Nerva engine test stand contract. The Nerva would be used in nuclear stages with a reactor derived from the Kiwi-B test series. Two days later a preproposal conference was held at Huntsville, Alabama, to select a prime contractor for the reactor-in-flight test (RIFT) stage launch vehicle. The RIFT vehicle, planned for use as an upper stage of a Saturn vehicle, would be powered by the Nerva nuclear engine.39

    39. Col. W. Scott Fellows, Chief, Nuclear Vehicle Proj. Off., MSFC, "The RIFT Program" (Draft), Jan. 25, 1962, p. 1.
Marshall awarded a design contract on December 6 for modification to the west side of the Center's existing static test tower. The tower, scheduled for completion by the summer of 1963, would be used for acceptance testing of Chrysler S-I stages.

At the Douglas Sacramento Test Facility (SACTO), prototype S-IV stage tankage was installed and propellant loading tests begun on December 11, 1961.

S-IV tanks at SACTO88
Marshall completed modifications to the Saturn barge Compromise on December 14, 1961. The barge, renamed Promise, was readied for movement to Wheeler Dam where it would receive stages of the SA-2 flight vehicle. On the same day another F-1 engine test was performed at the Rocketdyne test facility. The engine reached its rated 1.5 million pounds thrust in a short mainstage firing.
88. S-IV tankage at SACTO
test facility
89. Barge Promise
90. F-1 engine and test

F-1 engine in test stand90

NASA selected the Boeing Company on December 15 as a possible prime contractor for the first stage (S-IC) of the advanced Saturn vehicle.40 The S-IC, powered by five F-1 engines, would be 33 feet in diameter and about 140 feet high. The manufacturing program at Michoud was to produce 24 flight stages and one ground test stage.41 In December MSFC awarded a contract to the Mason-Rust Company to perform housekeeping and other administrative services at the New Orleans Michoud Plant.
    40. MSFC Press Release, Dec. 15, 1961.
    41. MSFC Press Release, Dec. 15, 1961.
NASA selected Douglas Aircraft on December 21, 1961, to negotiate a contract to modify the Saturn S-IV stage by installing a single J-2 Rocketdyne engine of 200,000 pounds thrust. The modified stage, identified as the S-IVB, would be used as a third stage of the advanced Saturn C-5 configuration.42
    42. NASA News Release 62-4, Jan. 10, 1962.
On December 28, the Mississippi Test Facility was officially named Mississippi Test Operations by Dr. Robert C. Seamans of NASA Headquarters.
S-IC stage91

91. S-IC stage
92. S-IVB stage cutaway

S-IVB stage92

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