Saturn Illustrated Chronology - Part 7

January 1966 through December 1966



MSFC announced on January 3, 1966, its negotiation of two nine-month study contracts to determine the feasibility of using an improved J-2 rocket engine in the S-II and S-IVB stages of the Saturn V launch vehicle: (1) a $148,000 contract to North American Aviation, developer of the S-II stage, and (2) a $225,000 modification of an existing contract with Douglas Aircraft Company. MSFC's Propulsion and Vehicle Engineering Laboratory was seeking to simplify the J-2 and give it and the stages it powered more flexibility.277
    277. MSFC Engine Prog. Off., Semiannual Prog. Report, July-Dec. 1965, p. 21.
On January 4 MSFC announced the awarding of seven new Saturn contracts, five of them to Saturn prime stage contractors for continuation of studies aimed at improving S-IB and Saturn V launch vehicles. North American, Boeing, and Chrysler each received one of the contracts. Douglas received two. The remaining two of the seven contracts were for continuation of engineering studies relating to a manned reusable transport system: (1) a nine-month $237,000 contract to Lockheed Aircraft Corporation to study possibilities of developing a reusable transport system based on presently approved launch and space vehicles and (2) a six-month $51,000 contract to Martin-Marietta Corporation for a comparison study of launch modes for reusable launch vehicles. Both contracts would be under MSFC's direction.278
    278. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 1965, p. 34; MSFC Saturn Flight Evaluation Working Group, Results of the First Saturn IB Launch Vehicle Test Flight AS-201 (MPR-SAT-FE-66-8), p. 13.
S-IC recovery studies268 268. Studies on reusable
transport system

NASA announced on January 7 the award of a $7,837,000 contract to the Radio Corporation of America, Aerospace Systems Division, Van Nuys, California, effective December 1, 1965, for logistic support of Saturn ground computer checkout systems. Under the two-year contract, managed by MSFC, RCA would provide spare parts, logistic management, maintenance support, and report services for the Saturn ground computer checkout systems. On this same date MSFC announced that the Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) near Tullahoma, Tennessee, was being expanded for testing of a third stage (S-IVB battleship) of NASA's Saturn V launch vehicle.279
    279. Exec. Off. of the President, Report to the Congress from the President of the United States, 1965, p. 12.
A ground-test (battleship) version of the S-II, second stage of the Saturn V, was static fired at Santa Susana, for 354 seconds in a successful January 12 test of its engine-gimballing and LOX cutoff systems.
S-II battleship firing269 269. S-II battleship firing,
Santa Susana
270. S-IC-D erected in S-IC
test stand at MSFC

Saturn V milestones on January 13 involved the first stage and instrument unit. The S-IC-D booster went into the dynamic test stand at MSFC on this date, and NASA awarded a $4,183,066 modification to its existing Saturn V instrument unit contract with IBM's Federal Systems Division, Rockville, Maryland. The modification was for manufacturing "redundant switch selectors."

At Michoud on January 14 a Saturn V launch vehicle first stage went aboard the barge Poseidon for shipment to KSC. On this same date NASA invited aerospace industries to propose definition studies of integrating experiment equipment in spacecraft that could be utilized for manned Apollo Applications missions. Two or more firms would be selected for negotiations of parallel nine-month study contracts.280

    280. MSFC Press Release No. 66-1, Jan. 3, 1966.
Workmen completed horizontal assembly of the second Saturn V first stage S-IC-2, on January 17, at MSFC's Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory, and the stage was moved to the Quality Assurance Laboratory for post-manufacturing checkout. On this date technicians completed vibration testing of General Dynamics' S-IU-500V instrument unit. The unit went from Wyle Laboratories to the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory for disassembly.281
    281. NASA Hist. Office, Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1966, SP-4007, p. 16.

S-IC-D at MSFC270

Barge Poseidon271

S-IC movement at MSFC272 271. Barge Poseidon used
to move Saturn stages
272. S-IC-1 (right) and
S-IC-2 in transit at MSFC

Removal of the S-IC-T from the static test tower on January 20 at MSFC concluded the S-IC-T planned test program at Huntsville. MSFC moved the booster to the Manufacturing Engineering building for storage and later conversion to the functional configuration of S-IC-4. NASA announced on January 20 that the hydrogen-fueled J-2 rocket engine had successfully completed a series of qualification tests to demonstrate performance over its design operating range. These qualification tests ended when a single engine operated successfully 30 times for a total firing time of 470 seconds. This accumulated duration was approximately eight times as long as the engine would be required to operate in flight.

A full-duration (2.5-minute) test for the fourth S-IB booster (S-IB-4) occurred at MSFC's East Test Area facility on January 21. Chrysler had conducted an earlier test of the engine, but for only 35 seconds.

Douglas personnel at Huntington Beach ended post-manufacturing checkout of the Saturn V S-IVB-501 third stage on January 28. Structural fabrication and assembly of the S-IU-501 ended at IBM Huntsville on this date. Early in 1966 MSFC formally redesignated the S-II all-systems stage (S-II-T) as the all-systems test/dynamics test stage (S-II-T/D).282

    282. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Jan. 1-Mar. 31, 1966, pp. 12 and 38.

Removal of S-IC-T from test stand273

273. S-IC-T removed from
test stand at MSFC

S-IVB-501 after checkout274 MSFC dock275

274. Moving of S-IVB-501
after post-manufacturing
275. MSFC dock activity
276. AS-201 awaits launch
at KSC


MSFC announced on February 2 that two S-IB flight boosters were aboard barges, one en route to the Michoud Assembly Facility and the other one to the Kennedy Space Center. NASA's second Saturn IB flight booster S-IB-2 was due to arrive at KSC within a few days aboard the barge Promise. The first S-IB vehicle, AS-201, meanwhile, was awaiting launch at KSC.

Workmen at MTF completed integrated checkout of the GSE for S-II-T/D on February 3.283

    283. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Jan. 1-Mar. 31, 1966, pp. 18, 25, and 39.
Rehearsal countdown at KSC for the S-IB/Apollo mission was delayed 24 hours on February 5 because of "minor problems and resulting crew fatigue." NASA spokesman said that it was not yet known if the delay would affect the rescheduled February 22 launching. Meanwhile the S-IB stage for AS-202 arrived at KSC via barge where it was unloaded and transported to Hanger AF for receiving inspection and installation of three fins.

On February 14 the MSFC Quality and Reliablity Assurance Laboratory completed, as scheduled, the checkout of S-IU-500FS, a ground version of the Saturn V instrument unit.284

    284. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Jan. 1-Mar. 31, 1966, p. 18.
MSFC continued to emphasize testing. It announced on February 15 that the first stage of the Saturn IB launch vehicle prior to its maiden flight had been "time tested" in more than 5,000 single-engine tests. In addition to these single engine tests of the H-1 rocket engines, there had been 72 vehicle tests.285
    285. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Jan. 1-Mar. 31, 1966, p. 38.
Technicians at MSFC successfully test-fired the S-IC-1 on February 17. The firing, lasting 40.7 seconds, met all the main test objectives.286
    286. MSFC Press Release No. 66-39, Feb. 15, 1966.
NASA's Saturn S-II facility stage (S-II-F) left Seal Beach, on February 20 for KSC aboard AKD Point Barrow. S-II-F, a nonflight version of the stage, would serve as second stage of the Saturn V facilities checkout vehicle, and would test and verify launch facilities, techniques, handling procedures, and operations. In a space hardware movement on the following day, the instrument unit for the second S-IB launch vehicle (S-IU-202) arrived at KSC from MSFC aboard the Promise. A booster for this S-IB was already at the KSC launch site.

AS-201 on launch pad276

Saturn V instrument unit277

277. Instrument unit configuration

S-II-F arrives at KSC279 H-1 engine278

278. H-1 engine
279. Transfer of S-II-F and
interstage from dock to
280. S-IU-202 moving to KSC

On February 24 and 25 MSFC technicians continued captive-firing tests of the first stage Saturn V launch vehicle (S-IC-1). MSFC scheduled the February 25 static firing for 125 seconds but had to terminate it after 83.2 seconds when a red-line observer received an incorrect reading from a faulty transducer. However, MSFC scientists determined that in this second static firing in two days all criteria for the second S-IC-1 static firing were met and that no additional static firings were required.287
    287. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Jan. 1-Mar. 31, 1966, p. 18.
After postponement on three consecutive days because of continuing bad weather, NASA on February 26 launched with its Saturn vehicle, AS-201, the Apollo spacecraft 009 payload from KSC Launch Complex 34. The vehicle performed throughout the powered and coast phases of flight. No major system malfunctions occurred in this unmanned suborbital Apollo flight. In lifting the spacecraft, AS-201's first stage had generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust. After burning 2 minutes and 26 seconds, propelling the Apollo to 37 miles altitude, the booster's eight H-1 engines, fueled with kerosene and LOX, shut down and the stage separated from the S-IVB. Four seconds later, a 200,000-pound thrust S-IVB (second) stage engine, burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, ignited.288
    288. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Jan. 1-Mar. 31, 1966, p. 11.
S-IU-202 moves to KSC280

S-IC test stand281

Saturn IB configuration283 Launch of AS-201282

281. S-IC test stand, Huntsville
282. AS-201 launch, KSC
283. Uprated Saturn I
launch vehicle configuration

On February 28 at MSFC workmen moved the S-IB-5 into a static test stand in preparation for captive firings.


MSFC shipped the S-IU-500F to KSC on March 1. On this same date assembly of the S-IVB-503 and S-IVB-504 continued at Douglas in Huntington Beach, California, and workmen began factory checkout of the S-IVB-502.289
    289. MSFC Saturn Flight Evaluation Working Group, Results of the First Saturn IB Launch Vehicle Test Flight AS-201 (MPR-SAT-FE-66-8), pp. 1-3.
NASA signed with the Boeing Company a March 4 supplemental agreement converting the Saturn V first stage (S-IC) contract from a fixed fee to an incentive fee contract. It was the first Saturn stage contract to be converted to an incentive type. At the time of this conversion the Boeing contract was valued at $850,114,303.290 Also on March 4 the S-II-F stage and its interstage arrived at Port Canaveral, Florida.
    290. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Jan. 1-Mar. 31, 1966, p. 27.
S-II-F in VAB284

284. S-II-F stage in low bay
285. S-IVB facilities at
Huntington Beach

On March 10 MSFC shipped a Saturn V instrument unit (S-IU-500FS) aboard the Super Guppy aircraft to Huntington Beach, for testing with an S-IVB stage in a simulated space environment. The following day the S-IVB-501 stage left Huntington Beach for Sacramento where it would undergo acceptance firing. Meanwhile at KSC workmen erected and mated the S-IVB stage and instrument unit of AS-202.291
    291. MSFC, MAF Hist. Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 2.

Huntington Beach285
Douglas Aircraft Corporation successfully conducted a March 18 acceptance test of the fourth flight Saturn S-IVB-204 stage at its Sacramento Test Center. Technicians fired the stage for about 455 seconds.292
    292. MSFC Saturn Flight Evaluation Working Group, Results of the Third Saturn IB Launch Vehicle Test Flight AS-202 (MPR-SAT-FE-66-13), p. 16.
SACTO facility286
NASA announced March 24 that it would negotiate incentive contracts with two major aerospace firms for the procurement of five additional Saturn V first stages (S-IC) and 33 F-1 rocket engines. NASA would negotiate with the Boeing Company for the stages and with Rocketdyne for the F-1 engines for these stages. The five S-IC stages would cost in excess of $165 million. These contracts were in line with NASA's plan to launch 15 Apollo/Saturn V space vehicles by the end of 1970.293
    293. NASA Hist. Off., Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1966, SP-4007, p. 107.
286. S-IVB facility at SACTO
287. F-1 engine

F-1 engine287

Mating of the S-II-F with the S-IC-F stage occurred at KSC, March 28. On the following day workmen mated the S-IVB-500F with the S-II-F, and the day after they erected the S-IU-500F.

On March 30 the S-IVB-500S/T flew from California to MSFC aboard the Super Guppy.

Unloading S-IVB from Super Guppy288 288. S-IVB-500S/T aboard Super Guppy

On March 31 there were major Saturn headlines at MSFC. Chrysler Corporation personnel captive fired the S-IB-5 for about 2.5 minutes, the second and longest duration firing for the booster.294
    294. MSFC, MAF Hist. Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 3.
S-IB in test stand289 289. S-IB stage erection
in test stand, Huntsville


April 1 NASA announced that project management of its first hydrogen-fueled engine, the RL10, was being transferred to Lewis Research Center at Cleveland, Ohio. A cluster of six RL10 engines had powered the Saturn I's S-IV second stage before the conclusion of MSFC's Saturn I program the previous year.
J-2 production line290 290. J-2 production at
291. RL-10 engine

RL-10 engine291

In an April 4 release NASA announced a change in sequence of the S-IB-202 and the S-IB-203 launches. Uprated S-IB-202 was rescheduled to follow the AS-203 mission. The purpose of the sequence change was to provide additional time for checkout of Apollo spacecraft to be flown in the AS-202 mission. AS-203 was a launch vehicle development mission and would not carry an Apollo spacecraft.295
    295. MSFC Press Release No. 66-69, Apr. 1, 1966.
NASA announced on April 6 the purchase under a $7,634,742 modification to an existing contract of 22 additional H-1 engines for the S-IB launch vehicle. In addition to the engines the contract with North American Aviation's Rocketdyne Division called for three years of support services, including training, field engineering, and supply support.

The third S-IB booster (S-IB-3) departed Michoud for KSC on April 7. The S-IB stage for AS-203 arrived at KSC via barge Promise where it was unloaded and moved into Hanger AF on April 12. Six days later workmen erected the S-IB stage on Launch Complex 37B. Meanwhile, MSFC loaded the S-IB instrument unit for AS-203 aboard the Super Guppy for flight to KSC. As preparations continued for erecting AS-203, KSC technicians continued propellant tests of the nearby AS-202.

H-1 engine production292

NASA barge Promise293

Super Guppy in flight294 292. Final check of H-1
engines before shipment
293. Barge Promise
294. Super Guppy
156 ft 3 ins
110,000 LBS
141 ft 2 ins
45,000 LBS 
46 ft 5 ins
175,000 LBS 
36 ft 6 ins
250 MPH 
300 ins
94 ft 6 ins
30 ft 8 ins

From April 19 to April 21 nine NASA astronauts visited MSFC for briefings on the S-IB launch vehicles to be used in the initial manned Apollo missions. Briefing areas included tours, hardware descriptions, and design philosophy.296
    296. MSFC, MAF Hist. Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 3.
MSFC announced on April 21 that NASA had awarded $50,000 60-day fixed-price contracts to Douglas Aircraft Company, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, and Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation to perform definition and preliminary design studies and evaluate a plan to make spent Saturn V S-IVB stage hydrogen tanks habitable for manned space missions up to 30 days in duration. MSFC would manage the contracts.297
    297. MSFC PAO, Marshall Star, Apr. 20, 1966, p. 1.
S-IVB hydrogen tanks295

295. S-IVB stage hydrogen tanks

On April 23 workmen at MTF successfully captive-fired for 15 seconds S-II-T, the Saturn V second stage all-systems test vehicle. This was the first test of a flight-weight S-II stage. The stage, largest and most powerful liquid oxygen-liquid hydrogen stage known, developed one million pounds of thrust from its five J-2 engines. This test also marked the first operational use of MTF.


MSFC announced on May 6 that the first uprated J-2 rocket engine had arrived at MSFC from Rocketdyne. In uprating the J-2, Rocketdyne had increased the thrust for a new thrust capability of 230,000 pounds. NASA schedules called for use of the higher thrust J-2 in the second stage of the S-IB, beginning with vehicle AS-208 and, in the second and third stages of the Saturn V, beginning with vehicle AS-504.298
    298. MSFC Press Release No. 66-83, Apr. 21, 1966.
Technicians at SACTO test stand Beta I completed the S-IVB-501 integrated systems checkout on May 9.299
    299. MSFC Press Release No. 66-91, May 6, 1966.
J-2 test firing296

296. Test firing of S-IVB
J-2 engine in Beta test stand

Helium-bottle trouble on May 10 resulted in termination of the second S-II-T firing at MTF. The following day, in a second attempt to complete a static firing of the S-II-T, the engine fired about 47 seconds. Premature cutoff occurred because of a gas generator problem.

A 154-second static firing of S-II-T, the all-systems version of Saturn V's second stage, occurred at MTF on May 17. This was a successful test of the nation's most powerful hydrogen-oxygen engine. Technicians made 1,100 measurements and gimballed four of the five engines. These engines in flight would provide stability and control of the stage.300

    300. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, p. 29.
S-II static firing297 297. S-II static firing at MTF

On May 19 MSFC announced the following nomenclature changes as recommended by NASA Headquarters officials, Dr. Seamans, Dr. Mueller, and Mr. Scheer: "Lunar Excursion Module to be called Lunar Module; the Saturn IB to become 'the uprated Saturn I.' At first the changes will be noted as 'the uprated Saturn, the Saturn IB' gradually dropping reference to the Saturn IB as the new name becomes more familiar. This would enable us to continue the string of Saturn I successes. Realistically the uprated Saturn I is what we have anyway; in general public releases we should begin referring to Saturn stages simply as the first, second, or third stages, and, where helpful, to semi-technical press and in press kits follow with the technical nomenclature, ie., 'the third stage of the Saturn V (S-IVB),' etc.; future releases and announcement should make use of the new nomenclature."

The first full-duration firing of the S-II flight stage occurred May 20 at MTF when S-II-T test-fired for 354.5 seconds. LOX cutoff sensors initiated cutoff automatically. The firing passed all major test objectives with the exception of the propellant utilization system. This was the fourth static firing of the S-II-T. The stage developed one million pounds of thrust from its five hydrogen-oxygen-powered J-2 engines.301

    301. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, p. 19.
"Rollout" of the AS-500F occurred at KSC May 25. The 500,000-pound facility test vehicle, 365 feet high, moved from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on its 3,000-ton diesel-powered steel-link crawler transporter to Pad A to verify launch facilities, train launch crews, and develop test checkout procedures. Also on May 25 technicians at MTF attempted the second full-duration firing of the S-II-T but terminated the firing after 198 seconds as a result of fire on engine No. 5. The fire burned an electrical cable to cause the cutoff. This was the fifth static firing of the S-II-T.302
    302. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, p. 19.
S-II static firing298

AS-500F rolls out of VAB299

298. Firing of an S-II flight stage
299. Saturn V in movement
at KSC

On May 26 at Sacramento Beta I test stand there was a second successful firing of S-IVB-501. This test of S-IVB-501 consisted of a 151-second mainstage first burn, a 106-minute simulated orbital coast period, and a 301-second mainstage burn after restart.303
    303. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, pp. 19 and 46.
S-IVB-501 static firing300 300. S-IVB-501 acceptance
firing at SACTO

NASA announced on May 27 the selection of two firms for negotiations of parallel one-year study contracts for integration of experiments and experiments support equipment in space vehicles and spacecraft involving manned Apollo Applications missions. Estimated value of each contract was approximately $1 million.

A static test version of the Saturn V second stage S-II-T ruptured during pressure tests at MTF on May 28, and five North American Aviation technicians monitoring the test received minor injuries. The accident occurred when the hydrogen fuel tank failed under pressure. S-II-T, which had five hydrogen-oxygen J-2 engines capable of generating one million pounds of thrust, had been tested May 25 in ground firing but stopped firing after 195 seconds when a hydrogen link leak caused automatic cutoff. At time of the explosion, technicians were trying to determine cause for the hydrogen leak. No hydrogen was in the tank when the explosion occurred. Under the direction of MSFC, a Board of Inquiry headed by Dr. Kurt H. Debus, Director of Kennedy Space Center, convened on the night of May 28. Immediate investigation revealed that the second shift crew, not knowing that the liquid hydrogen pressure sensors and switches had been disconnected, had attempted to pressurize the tank. Believing that a liquid hydrogen vent valve was leaking, the technicians closed the facility by blocking valves. This had caused the vehicle tank to become over-pressurized and burst.304

    304. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, p. 29.
301. Destroyed S-II-T/D
due to overpressurized
liquid hydrogen tank

Destroyed S-II-T/D301

On May 30 the board released its findings after two days of inquiry. The fuel tank of the S-II stage had been pressurized beyond design limits. There was a need for tighter controls over MTF test procedure.


On June 1 the Saturn V third stage (S-IVB-502) flew aboard the Super Guppy aircraft from the Huntington Beach to SACTO for static testing. The 33,000-pound Saturn V upper stage, 59 feet long and 21.5 feet in diameter, was the second to arrive at the Douglas test site.

At Redstone Arsenal MSFC successfully static fired the second S-IC stage (S-IC-2) of the flight Saturn V launch vehicle for 126.3 seconds and recorded 1,200 measurements of the stage's performance. The five F-1 engines, four of which were gimballed during this June 7 test, generated 7.5 million pounds of thrust.305

    305. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, p. 19.
Because Hurricane Alma approached Kennedy Space Center on June 8, it was necessary to interrupt the processing and test activities of AS-500F and move the vehicle back to the VAB. The hurricane threat passed, and two days later the vehicle was again back on Pad A.306
    306. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, p. 14.
On June 27 NASA announced the conversion of its contract with Douglas Aircraft Company for development of the Saturn's S-IVB stage to a CPIF agreement. Under the revised contract, the company's fee would be increased or decreased depending upon attainment of the incentive for cost, schedule, and performance. The original contract was a CPFF arrangement. Estimated cost of the total effort under both portions of the contract was about $700 million plus fee. To date about $595 million had been funded.
Loading Super Guppy302

AS-500F on crawlerway303

302. Loading sequence of
Super Guppy
303. Saturn V and mobile
launcher on crawler emerging
from VAB, KSC

On June 29 MSFC captive fired both an uprated Saturn I first stage and an F-1 engine at Redstone Arsenal. At MSFC's East Test Area technicians fired for a full duration the sixth flight Saturn booster (S-IB-6). It had previously been tested for 35 seconds on June 22. The S-IB, powered by eight Rocketdyne H-1 engines, produced 1.6 million pounds of thrust. At the West Test Area MSFC technicians captive fired the F-1 engine on a first run for about 40 seconds.307
    307. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, p. 6.
Following the destruction of S-II-T during a test at MTF, NASA extended the S-II battleship program until July of 1967. Also during June there were changes in the launch schedule for the Apollo/Saturn 203 launch. Previously scheduled for June 30, NASA rescheduled it for June 29 because of the scheduled launch of a lunar-anchored interplanetary monitoring platform Explorer. But by June 29 NASA had rescheduled AS-203 launch because of electrical problems, so that it would come no earlier than July 5.


At Kennedy Space Center technicians on July 2, 1966, erected and mated the AS-202 spacecraft. Three days later the twelfth Saturn vehicle, AS-203, flew from KSC Launch Complex 37B. After one hour, 53 minutes, and 17 seconds of countdown holds, the vehicle lifted off the pad to begin the second unmanned flight of the uprated Saturn I. The vehicle's second stage (S-IVB), instrument unit, and nosecone, weighing 58,500 pounds, comprised the heaviest U.S. satellite ever placed in orbit. Primary mission of this July 5 flight was an engineering study of liquid hydrogen fuel behavior during orbit.308, 309
    308. MSFC Press Release No. 66-142, June 30, 1966.
    309. MSFC, MAF Hist. Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 4.
MSFC technicians installed the S-IC-T stage in the S-IC test stand at Redstone Arsenal on July 7. Tentative plans called for static firings, including fuel and LOX loading tests.310
    310. MSFC Saturn Flight Evaluation Working Group, Results of the Second Saturn IB Launch Vehicle Test Flight AS-203 (MPR-SAT-FE-66-12), pp. 1-3.
On July 8 NASA announced the award of a contract to Federal Electric Corporation (FEC) of International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation for technical support of the Saturn launch vehicle reliability program at MSFC. The cost-plus-award-fee contract would be for one year at an estimated cost of $1.8 million, with a provision for two additional one-year periods. The FEC would perform test program analysis, failure mode and effects analysis, hardware and software failure analysis, and maintainability in human engineering analysis for MSFC's Quality and Reliability Assurance Laboratory. Most of the work would be in Huntsville.311
    311. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V QPR, Apr. 1-June 30, 1966, p. 25.
Launch of AS-203304a

AS-203 in flight304b

304. a. Launch of AS-203 from
pad 37
b. AS-203 in flight, showing
shockwave forming
around nose cone

Acceptance firing of the S-IVB-502 stage occurred at Sacramento, California, on July 28. The captive firing, conducted by Douglas Aircraft Company, prime contractor, simulated the operation of the propulsion system during the burn portion of the flight. The stage burned 150 seconds, shut down for one and one-half hour simulated coast period, and then reignited and operated 291 seconds. Such performance would be required in lunar missions. A J-2 hydrogen-oxygen engine made by Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation Company powered the stage.312
    312. MSFC Press Release No. 66-152, July 8, 1966.
S-IVB-502 acceptance firing305 305. Acceptance firing of
the S-IVB-502 at Sacramento

NASA Headquarters unconditionally approved J-2 engine program contract NAS8-19 on July 29. This contract established the provision for production support effort through December 1968, and for delivery of the 155 J-2 engines required for the Apollo program. The contract combined what had been two major J-2 contracts.313 Also on July 29, technicians at Seal Beach made hydro-static tests of the S-II-3 stage for AS-503. At Santa Susana technicians conducted a 40-second mainstage test of the S-II battleship stage. Automatic cutoff initiated from engine number 5, but data revealed that cutoff occurred erroneously.
    313. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 56.
Seal Beach complex306 306. S-II facilities at Seal Beach
307. Transfer of the S-II-1
from the Point Barrow to
the Pearl River at Michoud
enroute to MTF from Seal Beach

S-II-1, the first flight S-II stage scheduled for static firing at MTF, left Seal Beach on July 31.


NASA announced on August 1 the signing of a $339 million supplemental agreement with Chrysler Corporation's Space Division which increased the contract value by $14 million and converted the uprated Saturn I first stage production contract from a CPFF to a CPIF contract. The contract, to continue through February 1969, would involve Chrysler's assumption of design responsibilty and implementation of a total qualification and reliability testing plan. Under this contract managed by MSFC, Chrysler would manufacture, assemble, and test 12 stages.314
    314. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 67.
MSFC announced on August 5 the award of a $23.4 million modification to an existing contract with North American Aviation Space and Information Systems Division for additional work in building and testing the Saturn V launch vehicle's second stage. The contract modification included several engineering changes, many of which were already completed or under way.

S-II-1 at Michoud307
NASA decided to change the Sacramento-to-KSC shipping date of the S-IVB-501 from August 2 to August 12. This would meet the KSC required date and allow additional time for closeout of all open work prior to shipment. Stage turnover to NASA came in a ceremony at Sacramento on August 9. On August 11 technicians completed installation of flight vehicle instrumentation and tank purge operations. The stage then went aboard the Super Guppy aircraft and departed Sacramento on August 12, as scheduled, arriving at KSC on August 14, after a one-day delay because of weather. At KSC the stage went into the VAB low bay where receiving inspection began immediately.315
    315. MSFC MAF, Hist. Report. Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 4.
S-IVB-501 aboard Super Guppy308 308. General view of S-IVB-501
aboard Super Guppy
309. Launch complex 34 at

NASA announced on August 10, 1966, the rescheduling of the Apollo/uprated Saturn I (AS-202) from August 20 to August 22. During checkout operations technicians had discovered leaks in liquid hydrogen fuel line fittings leading to one of the three fuel cells in the spacecraft service module. The fuel cells would supply electrical power to the spacecraft during flight. Later, NASA decided to fly the mission with the two remaining fuel cells which were capable of providing sufficient power for the one and one-half hour suborbital flight. AS-202 would fly from Launch Complex 34 at KSC.316
    316. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 54.

Launch complex 34309
The fourth uprated Saturn I (S-IB-4), the first scheduled to launch a manned Apollo spacecraft, departed Michoud for KSC, on August 10.
S-IB-4 starts journey to KSC310 310. Fourth uprated Saturn I,
S-IB-4, in first stage of
journey to KSC

NASA announced on August 11 that MSFC would begin negotiations with the Chrysler Corporation and Douglas Aircraft Company for procurement of long-lead-time items for additional uprated Saturn I launch vehicles. Cost of the long-lead-time items was estimated at $5 million to $10 million.

The first flight model (S-II-1) of the Saturn V vehicle's second stage arrived August 13 at MTF completing its 4,000-mile voyage from Seal Beach. Workmen immediately moved the stage into the S-II stage service and checkout building for inspection and preparation for static firing.

S-II-1 at MTF311 311. S-II-1 arriving at MTF
for acceptance testing

On August 19 NASA selected McDonnell Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri, for negotiations toward a fixed-price contract estimated at $9 million to provide an S-IVB airlock. The airlock would permit astronauts access to the empty hydrogen tank of spent uprated Saturn I second stages.

A LOX line leading to the Saturn V launch pad at KSC ruptured on August 19, spilling more than 800,000 gallons of LOX. The incident occurred during the first-stage tanking test and the vacuum created inside the tank had caused a depression in the tank's 2.5-inch-thick dome.317

    317. MSFC Press Release No. 66-182, Aug. 10, 1966.
The S-IU-501 arrived at KSC on August 24.318 Apollo/Saturn vehicle AS-202, the third vehicle to fly in the uprated Saturn I series, rose from Launch Complex 34 at Cape Kennedy on August 25. AS-202 was the thirteenth Saturn vehicle in a row to fly successfully through space.319 This was the second successful flight test of the Apollo spacecraft command and service modules before earth orbital manned missions. The flight proved the Apollo command module ablative heat shield by subjecting it to extended high heat loads during reentry.320
    318. NASA Hist. Off., Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1966, SP-4007, p. 272.
    319. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 72.
    320. MSFC Saturn Flight Evaluation Working Group, Results of the Third Saturn IB Launch Vehicle Test Flight AS-202 (MPR-SAT-FE-66-13), pp. 1-3.
S-IU-501 arriving at KSC312 312. S-IU-501 arrives at KSC
aboard Super Guppy
313. AS-202 rises from KSC
on August 25, 1966

Launch of AS-202313

On August 26 MSFC shipped the first Saturn V flight booster (S-IC-1), scheduled to be launched early in 1967, to the Kennedy Space Center via the barge Poseidon.

NASA announced on August 28 that the August 19 line rupture below the 900,000 gallon stainless steel storage tank for the Saturn V booster's LOX would delay the booster's first flight, scheduled for the first quarter of 1967, by at least 45 days.


MSFC announced on September 7 that four barges carrying 400,000 gallons of vitally needed liquid oxygen were on route to KSC after being dispatched from MTF. The shipment, together with 40,000 gallons brought into KSC by truck and rail tank cars, would replenish the liquid oxygen lost on August 19 at Launch Complex 39. Schedules called for propellant loading tests to resume September 20, 1966.

The S-IC-1 arrived at KSC on September 11. Chrysler personnel at the Test Laboratory in Huntsville captive fired the seventh uprated Saturn I flight booster for its full two and one-half minute test on September 13. After this successful test, schedules called for MSFC to return the booster to Michoud for post-static test checks. Chrysler Corporation built the stage at the New Orleans facility.321

    321. NASA Hist. Off., Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1966, SP-4007, p. 277.
S-IC-1 at KSC314 314. S-IC-1 stage arrival
at KSC
315. S-IU-200S/500S during
structural test, MSFC

Last of the S-IVB-503 factory checkout tests occurred at Huntington Beach on September 14. The following day at MSFC's P&VE Laboratory in Huntsville technicians completed all test conditions for the S-IU-200S/500S-III structural test unit. The final test condition for the unit was the application of a 140 percent maximum limit compression load on part of the unit.322
    322. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 26.
On September 23 the first Saturn V flight booster built at MAF (S-IC-3) departed aboard the barge Poseidon for MSFC to undergo static firing tests. According to plans technicians would later static-fire the boosters at MTF.323
    323. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, pp. 58 and 71.

Structural test of S-IU-200S/500S315
S-IC-3 on barge Poseidon316 316. S-IC-3 being loaded
on barge Poseidon for shipment

MSFC announced on September 29 that it had awarded three new study contracts totalling $400,000 to investigate the launch vehicle needs and best methods for sending manned spacecraft on planetary flyby trips; North American Aviation, Inc., received $100,000 to study feasibility of modifying the Saturn V second stage, S-II, for use as an orbital ejection stage; Douglas Aircraft Company received $100,000 to study the feasibility of using Saturn V third stage, S-IVB, as part of a planetary vehicle; and TRW Systems, Inc., received $200,000 for study of alternative mission modes for manned Mars and Venus orbital and landing missions.324
    324. MSFC, MAF Hist. Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 5.


After successful completion of post-manufacturing checkout at the Michoud Booster Checkout Facility, the S-IC-3 stage left Michoud on September 23 and arrived at MSFC on October 1. Unloading operations began on October 3, and on that same date workmen erected the stage in the test stand.325
    325. MSFC Press Release No. 66-223, Sept. 29, 1966.
The S-IVB-503 stage went from Los Alamitos to Sacramento via the Super Guppy aircraft on October 11. The stage moved to the Vertical Checkout Laboratory on October 12, and into the test stand on October 14.

On October 17 MSFC shipped its S-IC all-system test booster, S-IC-T, to MTF for use in checkout of a static test stand and for use in static firings. Workmen loaded the huge booster aboard the barge Poseidon for the 1,000-mile river journey. Six days later the S-IC-T reached MTF. Meanwhile on October 25, after leaving Michoud a week earlier, the eighth uprated Saturn I first stage (S-IB-8) reached the MSFC dock for static firing at MSFC by Chrysler Corporation personnel. Also at MSFC on October 25, NASA awarded the University of Wisconsin a $679,101 contract to develop sensors for a galactic X-ray mapping experiment to be flown on an uprated Saturn I launch vehicle in 1968. The sensors would explore X-ray sources other than the sun and Crab Nebula.

S-IC-3 at MSFC317

317. S-IC-3 being erected
in the static test stand at MSFC

NASA announced on October 26 the award to North American Aviation of a $37 million contract supplement for launch preparation and checkout of ten Saturn V second stages (S-II). Two days later NASA awarded a $4.5 million contract modification calling for the Boeing Company to assume design and procurement responsibilities for certain structural components and instrumentation of Saturn V first stages built at Michoud. The components, previously provided by the Government, included propellant ducts and valves and pressurization switches and gauges.326
    326. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 28.


On November 3 technicians at MSFC completed systems checkout of the S-IU-502.327
    327. MSFC, MAF Hist. Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 5.
The S-II-F/D stage arrived at MSFC on November 10.
Instrument unit production318
S-II-F arriving at MSFC319 318. Saturn V instrument unit
during systems checkout
319. S-II-F stage being
unloaded at MSFC

Technicians at MSFC successfully acceptance-fired the S-IC-3 on November 15 for 121.7 seconds mainstage. This was the last planned firing of the S-IC stage at MSFC. Future firings would be accomplished at the B-2 stand at MTF.328 On November 16 at MSFC technicians successfully static fired the eighth uprated Saturn I booster for 35 seconds.329
    328. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 72.
    329. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 30.
On November 17 NASA announced several Apollo/Saturn manned space flight schedule changes because of launch vehicle and spacecraft development problems. The principal change called for rescheduling a manned earth orbital mission, Apollo/Saturn 205, which was to have followed the first manned Apollo flight, AS-204.330
    330. NASA Hist. Off., Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1966, SP-4007, p. 350.

S-IC test stand320

320. S-IC test stand at MTF
321. F-1 engine checkout

On November 18 NASA approved F-1 engine contract NAS8-18734 CPIF. This contract provided for 30 F-1 engines needed in the Apollo program and continued production support and GSE through June 1970. These 30 F-1 rocket engines furnished by Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation would complete the number of engines (106) required by the 15 scheduled Saturn V vehicles, plus spares. The cost would be about $141 million. The delivery of the 30 engines would begin in November, 1967, and continue through October 1968.331
    331. MSFC Press Release No. 66-276, Nov. 17, 1966.
On November 29 a forward bulkhead of the liquid hydrogen tank for the S-II-3 flight stage suffered damage while the stage was in the horizontal position. The damage occurred at North American Aviation's Seal Beach Plant as workmen were removing a work ladder from the tankage interior. The stage was in position when a 10-foot section of the ladder dropped, striking the forward bulkhead and causing cracks. The fall resulted from a weld failure in the ladder retracting mechanism. NASA anticipated no impact on the S-II-3 delivery date.332
    332. MSFC Press Release No. 66-278, Nov. 21, 1966.

F-1 engine321
Cracked S-II hydrogen tank322 322. Cracks in the liquid
hydrogen tank for the S-II-3

Technicians at MSFC on November 30 static fired the eighth uprated Saturn I booster successfully in its second test for 145 seconds. The first stage performed as expected, developing 1.6 million pounds of thrust.333
    333. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 44.


At MTF on December 1 North American Aviation conducted a successful 384-second captive firing of five J-2 engines, the first flight hydrogen-fueled engines, developing a total one million pounds of thrust. During the test, number 2 and 4 engine SLAM arms did not drop, resulting in the successful gimballing of engines 1 and 3 only. The test included the recording of about 800 measurements of the stage's performance, including propellant tank temperatures, engine temperatures, propellant flow rates, and vibrations.334
    334. MSFC Press Release No. 66-228, Nov. 30, 1966.
Workmen at MSFC completed stacking of the AS-500D vehicle on December 3.

Factory checkout of the S-IVB-504 flight stage ended on December 9 at Huntington Beach.

AS-500D in dynamic test tower323

323. Dynamic vehicle stacked
in the Saturn V Dynamic test
tower at MSFC

On December 13 a two-stage uprated Saturn I launch vehicle was shipped to KSC. NASA would launch the vehicle in 1967 in an unmanned test flight of the Apollo lunar module. The booster stage, S-IB-6, for the AS-206 left Michoud near New Orleans on this date aboard the barge Palaemon. The Palaemon would deliver its cargo to KSC on December 19. The second stage, S-IVB-6, went aboard the Super Guppy aircraft at Mather Air Force Base. Douglas built the S-IVB stage, at Huntington Beach, California, and tested it at SACTO. Schedules called for the vehicle's instrument unit to fly on December 19 from MSFC to KSC aboard the Super Guppy.335
    335. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 39.
An all-systems test version of Apollo/Saturn V first stage, S-IC-T, went into the B-2 test stand at the Mississippi Test Facility on December 17. Stage electrical and mechanical hook-up to the test stand began immediately. Static firing would occur in early 1967 to demonstrate the facility checkout system.336
    336. MSFC Press Release No. 66-294, Dec. 13, 1966.
MSFC announced on December 20 the award of a $7.2 million contract modification to Chrysler Corporation to begin procurement of long-lead-time items for additional uprated Saturn I first stages (S-IB). Under this agreement to be completed by June 30, 1967, Chrysler would procure the materials, components, and engineering support necessary to maintain its capability to assemble four uprated Saturn I boosters per year. Chrysler was currently under contract to assemble and test 12 of the 1.6 million-pound thrust first stages at Michoud.337
    337. MSFC Saturn V Prog. Off., Saturn V Semiannual Prog. Report, July 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 25.
MSFC announced on December 28 that NASA had signed a $6,383,720 contract modification with the Missile and Space Systems Division of Douglas Aircraft Company for long-lead-time items for the upper stages of uprated Saturn I vehicles. The contract, to be managed by MSFC, was extended through June 1967. The object of the procurement action was to maintain the option of ordering additional S-IVB stages for the uprated Saturn I in the future, without suffering a delay in certain areas where considerable time might be required for material acquisition and/or manufacturing.

On December 30, 1966, MSFC technicians at the MTF test stand conducted a static firing of the first flight version of the Saturn V second stage, S-II-1. This second test firing, like an earlier firing, lasted more than six minutes. Normal procedure called for the stage to undergo post-static firing inspection or checkout next at the test site before being moved to KSC, but in a change of procedure MSFC began preparations at once to ship the stage to KSC for these checks. Project officials hoped to gain seven or eight days by performing much of the checkout and modification work at KSC.338

    338. MSFC, MAF Hist. Report, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1966, p. 6.

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