Author Topic: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.  (Read 12598 times)

Offline Moe Grills

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50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« on: 10/26/2011 08:40 PM »
   The reason I recall this date is that I have an old encyclopedia set
of which one book has a cover showing the launch of the first Saturn 1,
with a dummy second stage, ascending from it's elevated pad on October,27, 1961.

   You may disagree, but I think that launch actually caused the American space program to leapfrog ahead of the Soviets in their "Space Race" from that day on.; just months after JFK sponsored Project Apollo.

I know that the first Saturn 1 generated only 1.3 million Ibs of thrust;
possessed only one functioning stage; was incapable then of putting anything into orbit until 1964; and nobody at NASA was quite sure what to do with it (Von Braun had ideas; others in NASA had other ideas);
and the Soviets in 1965 did launch a Proton that was more powerful.

  Yet what might have been.
(hypothetically) Even as early as 1964, NASA could have mounted a Centaur on top of a fully functional two-stage Saturn 1 and could have sent EITHER 14 short tons of hardware into LEO (mockup of a   spacelab?), 8,000 Ibs to the Moon; or accelerated 800-1000Ibs of off-the-shelf hardware (including a SNAP radioactive thermoelectric generator) towards Jupiter during a launch window around August, 1964.

   

Offline dbaker

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #1 on: 10/27/2011 02:07 PM »
    You may disagree, but I think that launch actually caused the American space program to leapfrog ahead of the Soviets in their "Space Race" from that day on.; just months after JFK sponsored Project Apollo.   

Don't disagree at all. I think a lot of us were finally convinced we were pulling level, if not ahead, when that baby lit off. Also this day, the Space Task Group met and wrote the detailed OP for two-man Mercury Mk II flights. Of course that became Gemini. The first manned flight was to have been an 18-orbit mission in May 1963 but that was back-placed to the last Mercury flight when Gemini drifted to the right. Back then Agena B was to have been the target vehicle for rendezvous and docking and the 12 flights were to have been completed by March 1965. In reality that was the date of the first manned Gemini mission but amazing that the completion of flight activity came only 18 months after the projected date six years before! More than just rocket thrust ignited 50 years ago this day - I raise a glass!

Offline edkyle99

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #2 on: 10/27/2011 02:38 PM »
SA-1 lifted off at 10:06 AM EST on October 27, 1961 from LC 34.  It was the heaviest object launched at the time.  The flight was absolutely a watershed event for NASA, but even before it flew Saturn C-1 was obsolete. 

During the months prior to the SA-1 launch, Von Braun's team, responding to JFK's May announcement, had abandoned Saturn C-2, the growth version of Saturn C-1, and had already begun thinking about shelving its Saturn C-3 designs, which had already moved away from the C-1 cluster stage itself.  Saturn C-1's S-IV stage would not fly for more than two years, but MSFC was already working on plans to abandon it in favor of bigger stage.  In following months, NASA would abandon plans to fly manned Apollo missions on Saturn I (C-1), leaving a truncated flight test program with no real payloads.

Today SA-1 and the Saturn C-1 program itself would be called a massive waste of money, but in 1961 it was worth every penny. 

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/27/2011 02:55 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #3 on: 10/27/2011 02:54 PM »
I like the flexible “outside the box” thinking at the time that gave us Saturn I. It was like, what can we do with what we have now? Whip-out the slide rules, it’s good to go… Great move…
Happy BirthdaySaturn I! :)

Robert
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Offline Jim

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #4 on: 10/27/2011 03:35 PM »

Today SA-1 and the Saturn C-1 program itself would be called a massive waste of money, but in 1961 it was worth every penny. 

 - Ed Kyle

Because we know rocket science now. 
The first 12 flights of Corona would also qualify as waste today.
« Last Edit: 10/27/2011 03:36 PM by Jim »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #5 on: 10/27/2011 04:21 PM »
I like the flexible “outside the box” thinking at the time that gave us Saturn I. It was like, what can we do with what we have now? Whip-out the slide rules, it’s good to go… Great move…
Happy BirthdaySaturn I! :)

Robert


There are different descriptions about who actually did the "outside the box" thinking!

In April 1957, Von Braun ordered H.H. Koelle to perform a space launcher design study.  Up until this time, the Army team had worked only on missiles.  Koelle first studied vehicles derived from the in-development Jupiter missile to orbit small payloads.  Then he looked at big boosters.  "Super Jupiter" was the result.  It would have used a cluster of four 370,000 pound thrust North American Aviation(NAA)/Rocketdyne E-1 engines. 

"Super Jupiter" was only a study, but it came off the shelf after the Soviets orbited Sputnik in October.  Von Braun submitted it as part of ABMA's December, 1957 "Proposal for a National Integrated Missile and Space Vehicle Development Program" to the Department of Defense.  (I've never seen a copy of this proposal, BTW).

JPL's Pickering suggested use of the "Juno" name for ABMA's space rockets after the January 31, 1958 Explorer I success.  Thus, "Super Jupiter" became "Juno V" (Junos III and IV were proposed Jupiter derivatives that never flew). 

In February 1958, the Eisenhower administration created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to foster the development of space technology. ARPA actually funded development of Juno III/IV, but soon shifted its attention toward the bigger rocket. 

Here's where it gets interesting and "outside the box"-y.  ARPA's David Young, Richard Canright, and Richard Cesaro were interested in big rockets.  Canright, on loan from Douglas Aircraft, was an "instant and strong advocate" for the cluster engine idea, according to ARPA history, but other histories tell a different story.  What is known is that Canright, who had begun at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was known as a knowledgeable and experienced propulsion expert - this during a time when very few such experts existed.

Canright (remember, he was the Douglas guy - he was the assistant chief engineer of missile systems there) punched ABMA in the gut by deciding to develop Thor-based orbital launchers rather than Juno III/IV.  His decision led to cancellation of Juno III/IV and its repercussions have reverberated for decades - right up to tomorrow's planned final launch of a Thor-derived rocket from Vandenberg AFB.

This decision led to a famous mid-1958 meeting attended by Canright, Secretary of the Army Wilbur Brucker, Maj. Gen. J.B. Medaris of ABMA, ARPA chief scientist Herbert York, David Young, and others. Bruker started things off by accusing ARPA of "selling out" to the Air Force (and Douglas), using "colorful language" in the process.  Brucker made it clear that he expected ARPA to support ABMA. 

After the meeting, Medaris told York and Canright that ABMA operations required $90 million a year.  He suggested that ARPA should fund half that amount!  Canright was "incensed" (can you imagine what this day was like for him!?), but York saw the writing on the wall.  If ARPA was not going to fund Juno III/IV, it was probably going to have to fund Juno V. 

In July, 1958, York sent Young and Canright to visit ABMA.  While there, they (probably Canright) "suggested" using eight existing Thor/Jupiter engines, a change that saved $60 million and two years in development time.  Von Braun was not in favor of this change, but ARPA controlled the purse strings.

Medaris and von Braun told Canright that it was impractical to try to make an eight-engined rocket!  Canright (probably still "incensed") insisted, saying that ARPA could find another contractor if ABMA didn't want the job!  Von Braun continued to advocate for E-1 engines for months afterward, to no avail. 

On August 15, 1958, ARPA Order 14-59 was signed, kicking off the Juno V effort.  The initial order was only for a full-scale, captive test of the first stage.  Additional orders would soon expand the program.  Saturn had been born.

So H.H. Koelle and Wernher von Braun conceptualized the big booster, but it was Richard Canright who made it into the "cluster" that we came to know.  It was his insistence on use of existing engines that resulted in the early SA-1 launch date - but which also probably led to the early obsolescence of Saturn I.

Canright, as I understand it, worked a few years later for NASA HQ's "Office of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion", where he had a say in the direction of early Saturn and Nova planning.  He also played a key role in "saving" Saturn when DoD tried to zero its budget in 1959.  I would like to find more info on this important fellow, if anyone has any links.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/27/2011 04:55 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline dbaker

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #6 on: 10/27/2011 04:53 PM »
There are different descriptions about who actually did the "outside the box" thinking!
 - Ed Kyle

Don't forget von Braun was a late convert to clustering, opposed to the idea until told he would be replaced if he couldn't agree to get on with it. He may have been the darling of the Disney world but at this stage von Braun had little clout and was not doing the running.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #7 on: 10/27/2011 05:48 PM »
SA-1 lifted off at 10:06 AM EST on October 27, 1961 from LC 34.  It was the heaviest object launched at the time.  The flight was absolutely a watershed event for NASA, but even before it flew Saturn C-1 was obsolete. 

During the months prior to the SA-1 launch, Von Braun's team, responding to JFK's May announcement, had abandoned Saturn C-2, the growth version of Saturn C-1, and had already begun thinking about shelving its Saturn C-3 designs, which had already moved away from the C-1 cluster stage itself.  Saturn C-1's S-IV stage would not fly for more than two years, but MSFC was already working on plans to abandon it in favor of bigger stage.  In following months, NASA would abandon plans to fly manned Apollo missions on Saturn I (C-1), leaving a truncated flight test program with no real payloads.

Today SA-1 and the Saturn C-1 program itself would be called a massive waste of money, but in 1961 it was worth every penny. 

 - Ed Kyle

Even though it got nicknamed Cluster's last stand the decision to build it was a wise one as it allowed early testing of the Apollo spacecraft.

The use what you have mentality reminds me of the concepts of man rating the EELVs for Orion.
« Last Edit: 10/27/2011 06:18 PM by Patchouli »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #8 on: 10/27/2011 06:11 PM »
Don't forget von Braun was a late convert to clustering, opposed to the idea until told he would be replaced if he couldn't agree to get on with it. He may have been the darling of the Disney world but at this stage von Braun had little clout and was not doing the running.

True that his detailed technical choices did not always make the final cut, but I can't agree with your "little clout" description.  In 1958, von Braun had just won a vast ocean of credibility with the Explorer I launch.  It was he, ultimately, who won the funding for the continued ABMA space projects, including what would be by-far the most costly of the U.S. launch vehicles - Saturn.  It was he who convinced LBJ, and thus JFK, that the Moon was the logical goal for bettering the Soviets.  It would be his Center that built much of what we call NASA today (MSFC, Stennis, Kennedy Space Center - which began as a launch "laboratory" for Marshall, etc.)  It was he that ultimately "made" NASA's lunar mode decision, when he accepted LOR. 

Much clout he had.

 - Ed Kyle   
« Last Edit: 10/27/2011 06:18 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #9 on: 10/27/2011 06:52 PM »
Don't forget von Braun was a late convert to clustering, opposed to the idea until told he would be replaced if he couldn't agree to get on with it. He may have been the darling of the Disney world but at this stage von Braun had little clout and was not doing the running.

True that his detailed technical choices did not always make the final cut, but I can't agree with your "little clout" description.  In 1958, von Braun had just won a vast ocean of credibility with the Explorer I launch.  It was he, ultimately, who won the funding for the continued ABMA space projects, including what would be by-far the most costly of the U.S. launch vehicles - Saturn.  It was he who convinced LBJ, and thus JFK, that the Moon was the logical goal for bettering the Soviets.  It would be his Center that built much of what we call NASA today (MSFC, Stennis, Kennedy Space Center - which began as a launch "laboratory" for Marshall, etc.)  It was he that ultimately "made" NASA's lunar mode decision, when he accepted LOR. 

Much clout he had.

 - Ed Kyle   
Great historical stories Ed! Keep them coming.
Thanks for sharing them… :)

Robert
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #10 on: 10/27/2011 06:53 PM »
Even though it got nicknamed Cluster's last stand the decision to build it was a wise one as it allowed early testing of the Apollo spacecraft.
Here's a terrific NASA video that shows some fascinating background on Saturn I development.  What is especially interesting are the descriptions of early plans for its use that never panned out.  There's a Saturn with wings, and even a propellant depot with a sunshade!


 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/27/2011 06:55 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #11 on: 10/27/2011 08:09 PM »
Because we know rocket science now. 
The first 12 flights of Corona would also qualify as waste today.

Was there ever a good reason for Saturn 1? Couldn't they have used Titan instead?
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #12 on: 10/27/2011 08:22 PM »
Because we know rocket science now. 
The first 12 flights of Corona would also qualify as waste today.

Was there ever a good reason for Saturn 1? Couldn't they have used Titan instead?

Titan then (1958) was a smallish (by comparison) two-stage LOX/kerosene ICBM under development.  Saturn was conceived to carry much heavier payloads than Titan could carry. 

 - Ed Kyle 
« Last Edit: 10/27/2011 08:23 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #13 on: 10/27/2011 10:19 PM »
Even though it got nicknamed Cluster's last stand the decision to build it was a wise one as it allowed early testing of the Apollo spacecraft.
Here's a terrific NASA video that shows some fascinating background on Saturn I development.  What is especially interesting are the descriptions of early plans for its use that never panned out.  There's a Saturn with wings, and even a propellant depot with a sunshade!


 - Ed Kyle
Interesting to see a very “Dragonesque-looking” Apollo spacecraft in the video…  ::)
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Offline Prober

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #14 on: 10/27/2011 11:12 PM »
Even though it got nicknamed Cluster's last stand the decision to build it was a wise one as it allowed early testing of the Apollo spacecraft.
Here's a terrific NASA video that shows some fascinating background on Saturn I development.  What is especially interesting are the descriptions of early plans for its use that never panned out.  There's a Saturn with wings, and even a propellant depot with a sunshade!

 - Ed Kyle

Great video Ed,  Would the Delta IV be considered a "Cluster" or is there a different term for that design?

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Offline kevin-rf

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #15 on: 10/27/2011 11:29 PM »
Interesting to see a very “Dragonesque-looking” Apollo spacecraft in the video…  ::)

There was a time when we called the gum drop shape a Soyuz shape...

So was that shape for an LEO only Apollo, or was it seriously proposed for Lunar Apollo? We do know the Gum Drop shape worked with Zond.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #16 on: 10/28/2011 12:16 AM »
Interesting to see a very “Dragonesque-looking” Apollo spacecraft in the video…  ::)

There was a time when we called the gum drop shape a Soyuz shape...

So was that shape for an LEO only Apollo, or was it seriously proposed for Lunar Apollo? We do know the Gum Drop shape worked with Zond.
It looks a lot like General Dynamics  Apollo lunar mission proposal…
http://www.alternatewars.com/SpaceRace/SP-4205/Ch01.htm
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Offline dbaker

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #17 on: 10/28/2011 08:42 AM »
Don't forget von Braun was a late convert to clustering, opposed to the idea until told he would be replaced if he couldn't agree to get on with it. He may have been the darling of the Disney world but at this stage von Braun had little clout and was not doing the running.

True that his detailed technical choices did not always make the final cut, but I can't agree with your "little clout" description. 
Much clout he had.

 - Ed Kyle   

Perhaps my choice of 'clout' was a bad one - but I stand by my assertion that the Army was not totally convinced by von Braun's approach (neither was the Air Force when it began to influence NASA thinking on test philosophy) but there is a danger in making sweeping generalizations.

In the period up to February 1958 when the very real relief at finally getting a US satellite in orbit washed back over von Braun, the Army brass dictated thinking and pushed clustering against von Braun's inclination - and his influence grew exponentially from that time, by which date the event we discuss had passed. Previously, von Braun had been given very strict instructions in heated discussion that clustering was going to happen despite his objections (expressed purely through caution over pushing too far too fast).

I remember back in 1962 the talk was very much about the boldness of having proposed multiple engines to harmonize as the big bold step. Things happened so very quickly at that time and von Braun picked up very great influence - but after the decision to cluster.

Saturn I was a landmark in so many ways - the first and last to fly an Apollo - and the mission and systems management techniques that fed across to Saturn V were a vital part of handling multiple contractors and getting them loaded on, without which Apollo would have needed another two years at least to achieve the ultimate goal. The story of Chrysler's learning curve is a case in  point.

Thanks Ed Kyle for boosting the discussion. High respect for you but maybe on this one we differ slightly. Did anyone else watch Mark Gray's DVD documentary on the Saturn I/IB program yesterday?

Offline Proponent

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #18 on: 10/28/2011 09:27 AM »
Was there ever a good reason for Saturn 1? Couldn't they have used Titan instead?

Titan then (1958) was a smallish (by comparison) two-stage LOX/kerosene ICBM under development.  Saturn was conceived to carry much heavier payloads than Titan could carry.

Once the Air Force became interested in Titan III-C, there was a show-down.  This is discussed in chapter 3 of the attached Titan III history that Blackstar posted some time ago.

Though I don't believe it's in the attached documents, I recall a quote from Herbert York when he was at ARPA (or possibly the Air Force) that Saturn's cluster was so complex it wasn't clear it would ever work, let alone be reliable.  Aside from turning out to have been completely incorrect, this is ironic given that it was ARPA that had forced the 8-engine cluster on von Braun.

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: 50 years ago today: Saturn 1.
« Reply #19 on: 10/28/2011 12:23 PM »
Very interesting, thanks!

Skimming the first document, it looks as if solids were selected for Titan III because they were an easy way to get a lot of thrust. Was an all-liquid three core configuration like the EELV Heavies ever considered?

Conversely, was an F-1 powered, non-clustered Saturn derivative or Saturn/Titan hybrid ever considered as a replacement for Titan III/IV?
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