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.
Saturn C-593

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. 1.
SA-2 on launch pad94 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 Test Operations.48
    48. MSFC SSO, Saturn QPR, Jan.-Mar. 62, p. 38.
Map of Mississippi Test Facility95 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.
S-IV all-systems vehicle96
Launch Complex 37 construction97 97. Construction of Launch
Complex 37


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, 1962.
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.
Launch of SA-298

98. Launch of Saturn SA-2
Flight Vehicle


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 full-thrust, long-duration 
F-1 engine test. On the same day SA-4 booster fabrication was completed.57
    57. Claude J. Bowen, MSFC SSO, interviewed June 13, 1962.
Static firing of F-1 engine99 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, p. 12.
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 seconds.59
    59. MSFC Test Div., "Test Division Hist. Report, Jan 1-June 30, 1962," p. 1.
C-1 test stand100
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.
Saturn C-IB101

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.
Launch Complex 39102 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.
Saturn C-5 launch pad103 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.
Computer Center, Slidell104 104. NASA Computer Center,
Slidell, Lousiana
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.
C-5 dynamic test tower105
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 flight.66
    66. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, July 13-Aug. 13, 1962, p. 13.
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.

S-IV battleship firing106 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.
S-IC static test stand107
S-II stage plant108 108. S-II stage assembly and
test facility
109. President Kennedy
visits MSFC

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.
President Kennedy at MSFC109
Installation of boring mill110 110. Installation of 42-foot
boring mill

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 test stands.
Mississippi Test Facility111 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, p. 1.
    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.
Dual plane separation112


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 S&ID.74

    73. MSFC Press Release, Oct. 5, 1962.
    74. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, 1962, p. 9.

 J-2 test facility113
 S-IC stage facility114

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 testing.78
    77. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, 1962, p. 4.
    78. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Nov. 12-Dec. 14, 1962, p. 5.


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 flights.
    79. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Nov. 12-Dec. 14, 1962, p. 3.

 SA-5 configuration115
 S-IV stage at MSFC116

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 control motors.

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 firing tests.80

    80. MSFC Sat. Off., Saturn MPR, Oct. 16-Nov. 12, 1962, p. 6.
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, p. 10.
Launch of SA-3117
Michoud Assembly Facility118 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.
Launch Complex 39 VAB119 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, p. 5.

During 1962

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.

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