Encyclopedia Astronautica
Saturn


The Saturn launch vehicle was the penultimate expression of the Peenemuende Rocket Team's designs for manned exploration of the moon and Mars. Numerous designs and variants were studied, but in the end only three models - the Saturn I, IB, and V - were built in the 1960's, and then only used to support NASA's Apollo moon landing program.

The Saturn launch vehicle was the penultimate expression of the Peenemuende Rocket Team's designs for manned exploration of the moon and Mars. The designs were continuously developed and improved, starting from the World War II A11 and A12 satellite and manned shuttle launcher, through the designs made public in the Collier's Magazine series of the early 1950's, until the shock of the first Sputnik launch brought sudden real interest from the U.S. government. On December 30 1957 Von Braun produced a 'Proposal for a National Integrated Missile and Space Vehicle Development Plan'. This had the first mention of a 1,500,000 lbf booster (Juno V, later Saturn I). By July of the following year Huntsville had in hand the contract from ARPA to proceed with design of the Juno V.

Following transfer of the Peenemuende Rocket Team from the US Army to NASA, a year after the first plan was mooted, Von Braun briefed NASA on plans for booster development at Huntsville with objective of manned lunar landing. It was initally proposed that 15 Juno V (Saturn I) boosters assemble a 200,000 kg payload in earth orbit for direct landing on moon. NASA produced two months later, on February 15, 1959, its plan for development in the next decade of Vega (later cancelled after NASA discovered the USAF was secretly developing the similar Hustler (Agena) upper stage), Centaur, Saturn, and Nova launch vehicles (Juno V renamed Saturn I at this point). Throughout the initial planning, Presidential decision, and landing mode debate for the Apollo lunar landing goal, a variety of Saturn and Nova configurations were considered. Of these, only the C-1 and C-5 were taken through to further development.

Configuration Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 LEO Payload - kg Escape Payload - kg
Saturn A-1 8 x H-1 2 x LR89 2 x LR115   
Saturn A-2 8 x H-1 4 x S-3 2 x LR115   
Saturn B-1 8 x H-1 4 x LR89 5 x LR115 2 x LR115  
Saturn C-1 8 x H-1 6 x LR115 2 x LR115 9,0002,200
Saturn C-2 8 x H-1 1 x J-2 6 x LR115 2 x LR11520,0006,800
Saturn C-3 2 x F-1 4 x J-2 6 x LR115 2 x LR115  
Saturn C-4 4 x F-1 4 x J-2 1 x J-2   
Saturn C-5 5 x F-1 5 x J-2 1 x J-2 127,00045,000
       
Nova Basic 6 x F-1 1 x F-1 4 x J-2 68,00016,000
Nova A 4 x F-1 4 x J-2 5 x LR115 1 x 2700 kgf68,00027,000
Nova B 6 x F-1 8 x J-2 7 x LR115 1 x LR115112,00047,000
Nova C 6 x F-1 8 x J-2 1 x Nerva 68,00038,000
Nova D 6 x F-1 8 x J-2 1 x Nerva 112,00065,000
Nova N-F1 8 x F-1 4 x F-1 1 x J-2  70,000
Nova N-M1 8 x F-1 4 x M-1 1 x J-2 180,00090,000

More... - Chronology...


Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Super-Jupiter American orbital launch vehicle. The very first design that would lead to Saturn. A 1.5 million pound thrust booster using four E-1 engines - initial consideration of using a single USAF F-1 engine abandoned because of development time. Existing missile tankage was clustered above the engines. More...
  • Juno V-A American orbital launch vehicle. By 1958 the Super-Jupiter was called Juno V and the 4 E-1 engines were abandoned in favor of clustering 8 Jupiter IRBM engines below existing Redstone/Jupiter tankage. The A version had a Titan I ICBM as the upper stages. Masses, payload estimated. More...
  • Juno V-B American orbital launch vehicle. A proposed version of the Juno V for lunar and planetary missions used a Titan I ICBM first stage and a Centaur high-energy third stage atop the basic Juno V cluster. Masses, payload estimated. More...
  • Saturn A-1 American orbital launch vehicle. Projected first version of Saturn I, to be used if necessary before S-IV liquid hydrogen second stage became available. Titan 1 first stage used as second stage, Centaur third stage. Masses, payload estimated. More...
  • Saturn C-2 American orbital launch vehicle. The launch vehicle initially considered for realizing the Apollo lunar landing at the earliest possible date. 15 launches and rendezvous required to assemble direct landing spacecraft in earth orbit. More...
  • Saturn B-1 American orbital launch vehicle. Most powerful version of Saturn I considered. New low energy second stage with four H-1 engines, S-IV third stage, Centaur fourth stage. Masses, payload estimated. More...
  • Saturn A-2 American orbital launch vehicle. More powerful version of Saturn I with low energy second stage consisting of cluster of four IRBM motors and tankage, Centaur third stage. Masses, payload estimated. More...
  • Saturn C-4 American orbital launch vehicle. The launch vehicle actually planned for the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous approach to lunar landing. The Saturn C-5 was selected instead to have reserve capacity. More...
  • Saturn I RIFT American nuclear orbital launch vehicle. In the first half of the 1960's it was planned to make suborbital tests of nuclear propulsion for upper stages using a Saturn IB first stage to boost a Rover-reactor powered second stage on a suborbital trajectory. The second stage would impact the Atlantic Ocean down range from Cape Canaveral. More...
  • Saturn C-3 The launch vehicle concept considered for a time as the leading contender for the Earth Orbit Rendezvous approach to an American lunar landing. More...
  • Saturn I American orbital launch vehicle. Von Braun launch vehicle known as 'Cluster's Last Stand' - 8 Redstone tanks around a Jupiter tank core,powered by eight Jupiter engines. Originally intended as the launch vehicle for Apollo manned circumlunar flights. However it was developed so early, no payloads were available for it. More...
  • Saturn C-1 American orbital launch vehicle. Original flight version with dummy upper stages, including dummy Saturn S-V/Centaur (never flown). More...
  • Saturn C-5 American orbital launch vehicle. Final configuration of Saturn C-5 at the time of selection of this configuration for the Apollo program in December 1961. The actual Saturn V would be derived from this, but with an increased-diameter third stage (6.61 m vs 5.59 m in C-5) and increased propellant load in S-II second stage. More...
  • Saturn C-3B American orbital launch vehicle. Final configurtion of the Saturn C-3 at the time of selection of the Saturn C-5 configuration for the Apollo program in December 1961. More...
  • Saturn C-4B American orbital launch vehicle. Final configurtion of the Saturn C-4 at the time of selection of the Saturn C-5 configuration for the Apollo program in December 1961. Only Saturn configuration with common bulkhead propellant tanks in first stage, resulting in shorter vehicle than less powerful Saturn C-3. More...
  • Saturn C-5N American nuclear orbital launch vehicle. Version of Saturn C-5 considered with small nuclear thermal stage in place of S-IVB oxygen/hydrogen stage. More...
  • Saturn C-3BN American nuclear orbital launch vehicle. Version of Saturn C-3 considered with small nuclear thermal stage in place of S-IVB oxygen/hydrogen stage. More...
  • Saturn I Blk2 American orbital launch vehicle. Second Block of Saturn I, with substantially redesigned first stage and large fins to accomodate Dynasoar payload. More...
  • Saturn C-8 American orbital launch vehicle. The largest member of the Saturn family ever contemplated. Designed for direct landing of Apollo command module on moon. Configuration used eight F-1 engines in the first stage, eight J-2 engines in the second stage, and one J-2 engine in the third stage. Distinguishable from Nova 8L in use of J-2 engines instead of M-1 engines in second stage. More...
  • Winged Saturn V In June 1962 NASA funded studies with several contractors on Operations and Logistics for Space Stations. North American's study was dated 18 March 1963. The second alternative was a two-stage reusable booster derived from the Saturn V. This would boost either an 11,400 kg cargo, or a half-disc lifting body spaceplane, which would accommodate two crew plus ten passengers and minor cargo More...
  • Saturn V American orbital launch vehicle. America's booster for the Apollo manned lunar landing. The design was frozen before a landing mode was selected; the Saturn V could be used for either Earth-Orbit-Rendezvous or Lunar-Orbit-Rendezvous methods. The vehicle ended up with the same payload capability as the 'too large' Nova. The basic diameter was dictated by the ceiling height at the Michoud factory selected for first stage manufacture. More...
  • Saturn V 2 American orbital launch vehicle. Two stage version of Saturn V, consisting of 1 x Saturn S-IC + 1 x Saturn S-II, used to launch Skylab. More...
  • Saturn MLV-V-4(S) American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1965. Saturn V core, strengthened but not stretched, with 4 Titan UA1205 strap-on solid rocket boosters. More...
  • Saturn MLV-V-1 American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1965. Improved Saturn V configuration studied under contract NAS8-11359. Saturn IC stretched 240 inches with 5.6 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1A engines; S-II stretched 41 inches with 1.0 million pounds propellant and 5 J-2 engines; S-IVB strengthened but with standard 230,000 lbs propellant, 1 J-2 engine. More...
  • Saturn MLV-V-2 American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1965. Saturn IC stretched 240 inches with 5.6 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1A engines; S-II stretched 41 inches with 1.0 million pounds propellant and 5 J-2 engines; S-IVB stretched 198 inches with 350,000 lbs propellant, 1 HG-3 engine. More...
  • Saturn MLV-V-3 American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1965. Ultimate core for improved Saturn V configurations studied under contract NAS8-11359. Saturn IC stretched 240 inches with 5.6 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1A engines; S-II stretched 156 inches with 1.2 million pounds propellant and 5 HG-3 engines; S-IVB stretched 198 inches with 350,000 lbs propellant, 1 HG-3 engine. More...
  • Saturn INT-05 American orbital launch vehicle. NASA Study, 1965: Half length 260 inch solid motor with S-IVB upper stage. More...
  • Saturn INT-27 American orbital launch vehicle. UA study, 1965. Saturn variant using various combinations of 156 inch rocket motors as first and second stages, with S-IVB upper stage. More...
  • Saturn IB-A American orbital launch vehicle. Douglas Studies, 1965: S-IB with 225 k lbf H-1's; S-IVB stretched with 350,000 lbs propellants; Centaur third stage. More...
  • Saturn INT-05A American orbital launch vehicle. UA Study, 1965: Full length 260 inch solid motor with S-IVB upper stage. More...
  • Saturn MLV-V-1A American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1965. Saturn IC stretched 240 inches with 5.6 million pounds propellant and 6 F-1 engines; S-II stretched 156 inches with 1.2 million pounds propellant and 7 J-2 engines; S-IVB stretched 198 inches with 350,000 lbs propellant, 1 J-2 engine. More...
  • Saturn MLV-V-4(S)-A American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1965. 4 Titan UA1205 solid rocket boosters; Saturn IC stretched 337 inches with 6.0 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1 engines; S-II with 970,000 pounds propellant and 5 J-2 engines; S-IVB strengthened but with standard 230,000 lbs propellant, 1 J-2 engine. More...
  • Saturn IB-B American orbital launch vehicle. Douglas Studies, 1965: S-IB with 225 k lbf H-1's; S-IVB stretched with 350,000 lbs propellants and HG-3 high performance engine. More...
  • Saturn IB-C American orbital launch vehicle. Douglas Studies, 1965: 4 Minuteman strap-ons; standard S-IB, S-IVB stages. More...
  • Saturn IB-CE American orbital launch vehicle. Douglas Studies, 1965: Standard Saturn IB with Centaur upper stage. More...
  • Saturn IB-D American orbital launch vehicle. Douglas Studies, 1965: Standard Saturn IB with Titan UA1205 5-segment strap-on motors. More...
  • Saturn MLV-V-1/J-2T/250K American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1965. Improved Saturn V configuration studied under contract NAS8-11359. Variant of MLV-V-1 with toroidal J-2T-250K engines replacing standard J-2 engines in upper stages. More...
  • Saturn MLV-V-1/J-2T/200K American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1965. Improved Saturn V configuration studied under contract NAS8-11359. Variant of MLV-V-1 with toroidal J-2T-200K engines replacing standard J-2 engines in upper stages. More...
  • Saturn IB American orbital launch vehicle. Improved Saturn I, with uprated first stage and Saturn IVB second stage (common with Saturn V) replacing Saturn IV. Used for earth orbit flight tests of Apollo CSM and LM. More...
  • Uprated Saturn I American orbital launch vehicle. Initial version of Saturn IB with old-design Saturn IB first stage. More...
  • Saturn INT-11 American orbital launch vehicle. Chrysler Studies, 1966: S-IB with 4 Titan UA1205 with standard S-IB stage, S-IVB stage, or 4 Titan UA1207 strap-ons with 20-foot stretche S-IB stage, S-IVB stage. S-IB ignition at altitude. More...
  • Saturn INT-12 American orbital launch vehicle. Chrysler Studies, 1966: S-IB with only 4 H-1 motors, with 4 Titan UA1205 with standard length S-IB stage, S-IVB stage, or 4 Titan UA1207 strap-ons with 20-foot stretche S-IB stage, S-IVB stage. S-IB ignition at sea level at same time as strap-ons. More...
  • Saturn INT-13 American orbital launch vehicle. Chrysler Studies, 1966: S-IB with 2 Titan UA1205 with standard length S-IB stage, S-IVB stage, or 2 Titan UA1207 strap-ons with 20-foot stretche S-IB stage, S-IVB stage. S-IB ignition at sea level at same time as strap-ons. More...
  • Saturn INT-14 American orbital launch vehicle. Chrysler Studies, 1966: S-IB with 4 Minuteman motors as strap-ons, with no, 10, or 20-foot stretch S-IB stages, S-IVB stage. S-IB ignition at sea level at same time as strap-ons. More...
  • Saturn INT-15 American orbital launch vehicle. Chrysler Studies, 1966: S-IB with 8 Minuteman motors as strap-ons, with no, 10, or 20-foot stretch S-IB stages, S-IVB stage. S-IB ignition at sea level at same time as strap-ons. More...
  • Saturn INT-16 American orbital launch vehicle. UA Studies, 1966: S-IVB upper stage with from 2 to 5 Titan UA1205, 1206, or 1207 motors as first stage, clustered around from 1 to 3 of the same motors as a second stage. S-IVB upper stage. More...
  • Saturn INT-17 North American study, 1966. Saturn variant with a modified S-II first stage with seven high-performance HG-3 engines; S-IVB second stage. Poor performance and cost-effectiveness and not studied further. More...
  • Saturn INT-18 North American study, 1966. Saturn variant with Titan UA1205 or 1207 motors as boosters, Saturn II stage as core, and Saturn IVB upper stage. Various combinations of numbers of strap-ons, propellant loading of the two core stages, and sea-level versus altitude ignition were studied. More...
  • Saturn INT-19 North American study, 1966. Saturn variant with 4 to 12 Minuteman motors as boosters, Saturn II stage as core, and Saturn IVB upper stage. Saturn II stage would be fitted with lower expansion ratio engines and would ignite at sea level. Various combinations of numbers of strap-ons, propellant loading of the two core stages were studied. More...
  • Saturn V-ELV American orbital launch vehicle. NASA study, 1966. No-height-limitation stretched Saturn with Titan UA1207 motors for thrust augmentation. More...
  • Saturn V-24(L) American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1967. 4 260 inch liquid propellant boosters (each with 2 F-1A).; Saturn IC stretched 336 inches with 6.0 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1A engines; S-II stretched 156 inches with 1.2 million pounds propellant and 5 HG-3 engines; S-IVB stretched 198 inches with 350,000 lbs propellant, 1 HG-3 engine. Not studied in detail since vehicle height of 600 feet with payload exceeded study limit of 410 feet. More...
  • Saturn V-23(L) American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1967. 4 260 inch liquid propellant boosters (each with 2 F-1's!).; Saturn IC stretched 240 inches with 5.6 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1 engines; S-II strengthened but with standard 930,000 pounds propellant and 5 J-2 engines; S-IVB stretched 198 inches with 350,000 lbs propellant, 1 J-2 engine. More...
  • Saturn V/4-260 American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1967-1968. Use of full length 260 inch solid rocket boosters with stretched Saturn IC stages presented problems, since the top of the motors came about half way up the liquid oxygen tank of the stage, making transmission of loads from the motors to the core vehicle complex and adding a great deal of weight to the S-IC. Boeing's solution was to retain the standard length Saturn IC, with the 260 inch motors ending half way up the S-IC/S-II interstage, but to provide additional propellant for the S-IC by putting propellant tanks above the 260 inch boosters. These would be drained first and jettisoned with the boosters. This added to the plumbing complexity but solved the loads problem. More...
  • Saturn INT-20 American orbital launch vehicle. Saturn variant consisting of S-IC first stage and S-IVB second stage. Consideration was given to deleting one or more of the F-1 engines in the first stage. More...
  • Saturn LCB-Alumizine-140 American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing Low-Cost Saturn Derivative Study, 1967 (trade study of 260 inch first stages for S-IVB, all delivering 86,000 lb pyld to LEO): Low Cost Booster, Single Pressure-fed N2O4/Alumizine Propellant engine, HY-140 Steel Hull. More...
  • Saturn LCB-Alumizine-250 American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing Low-Cost Saturn Derivative Study, 1967 (trade study of 260 inch first stages for S-IVB, all delivering 86,000 lb pyld to LEO): Low Cost Booster, Single Pressure-fed N2O4/Alumizine Propellant engine, Ni-250 Steel Hull. More...
  • Saturn LCB-Storable-250 American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing Low-Cost Saturn Derivative Study, 1967 (trade study of 260 inch first stages for S-IVB, all delivering 86,000 lb pyld to LEO): Low Cost Booster, Single Pressure-fed N2O4/UDMH Propellant engine, Ni-250 Steel Hull. More...
  • Saturn LCB-Storable-140 American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing Low-Cost Saturn Derivative Study, 1967 (trade study of 260 inch first stages for S-IVB, all delivering 86,000 lb pyld to LEO): Low Cost Booster, Single Pressure-fed N2O4/UDMH Propellant engine, HY-140 Steel Hull. More...
  • Saturn LCB-Lox/RP-1 American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing Low-Cost Saturn Derivative Study, 1967 (trade study of 260 inch first stages for S-IVB, all delivering 86,000 lb pyld to LEO): Low Cost Booster, Single Pressure-fed Lox/RFP-1 engine. More...
  • Saturn INT-21 American orbital launch vehicle. Saturn variant consisting of S-IC first stage and S-II second stage. This essentially flew once to launch Skylab in 1972, although the IU was located atop the Skylab space station (converted S-IVB stage) rather than atop the S-II as in the INT-21 design. More...
  • Saturn V-3B American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1967. Variation on MSFC 1965 study Saturn MLV-V-3 but with toroidal engines. Saturn IC stretched 240 inches with 5.6 million pounds propellant (but only 4.99 million pounds usable without solid rocket boosters) and 5 F-1A engines; S-II stretched 186 inches with 1.29 million lbs propellant and 5 J-2T-400 engines; S-IVB stretched 198 inches with 350,000 lbs propellant, 1 J-2T-400 engine. More...
  • Saturn V-25(S)B American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1967. 4 156 inch solid propellant boosters; Saturn IC stretched 498 inches with 6.64 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1 engines; S-II standard length with 5 J-2 engines; S-IVB stretched 198 inches with 350,000 lbs propellant, 1 J-2 engine. More...
  • Saturn MLV-V-4(S)-B American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1967. Configuration of improved Saturn 5 with Titan UA1207 120 inch solid rocket boosters. Saturn IC stretched 336 inches with 6.0 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1 engines; Saturn II and Saturn IVB stages strengthened but not stretched. Empty mass of stages increased by 13.9% (S-IC), 8.6% (S-II) and 11.8% (S-IVB). Studied again by Boeing in 1967 as Saturn V-4(S)B. More...
  • Saturn S-IC-TLB American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing Low-Cost Saturn Derivative Study, 1967 (trade study of 260 inch first stages for S-IVB, all delivering 86,000 lb pyld to LEO): S-IC Technology Liquid Booster: 260 inch liquid booster with 2 x F-1 engines, recoverable/reusable More...
  • Saturn LCB-SR American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing Low-Cost Saturn Derivative Study, 1967 (trade study of 260 inch first stages for S-IVB, all delivering 86,000 lb pyld to LEO): Low Cost Booster, 260 inch solid motor, full length. More...
  • Saturn V-4X(U) American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1968. Four core vehicles from Saturn V-25(S) study lashed together to obtain million-pound payload using existing hardware. First stage consisted of 4 Saturn IC's stretched 498 inches with 6.64 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1 engines; second stage 4 Saturn II standard length stages with 5 J-2 engines More...
  • Saturn V-A American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1968. Essentially identical to Saturn INT-20; standard Saturn IC stage together with Saturn IVB second stage, with Centaur third stage for deep space missions. More...
  • Saturn V-B American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1968. Intriguing stage-and-a-half to orbit design using Saturn S-ID stage. The S-ID would be the same length and engines as the standard Saturn IC, but the four outer engines and their boost structure would be jettisoned once 70% of the propellant was consumed, as in the Atlas ICBM. This booster engine assembly would be recovered and reused. The center engine would be gimbaled and serve as a sustainer engine to put the rest of the vehicle and its 50,000 pound payload into orbit. At very minimal cost (36 months leadtime and $ 150 million) the United States could have attained a payload capability and level of reusability similar to that of the space shuttle. More...
  • Saturn V-C American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1968. S-ID stage-and-a-half first stage and Saturn IVB second stage. Centaur available as third stage for deep space missions. 30% performance improvement over Saturn V-A/Saturn INT-20 with standard Saturn IC first stage. More...
  • Saturn V-D American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1968. Rehashed the Boeing 1967 studies, covering a variety of stage stretches and 120, 156, or 260 inch solid rocket boosters, but with S-ID stage-and-a-half first stage. More...
  • Saturn V-Centaur American orbital launch vehicle. MSFC study, 1968. S-ID stage-and-a-half first stage and Saturn IVB second stage. Centaur available as third stage for deep space missions. 30% performance improvement over Saturn V-A/Saturn INT-20 with standard Saturn IC first stage. More...
  • Saturn V-25(S)U American orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1968. 4 156 inch solid propellant boosters; Saturn IC stretched 498 inches with 6.64 million pounds propellant and 5 F-1 engines; S-II standard length with 5 J-2 engines. This vehicle would place Nerva nuclear third stage into low earth orbit, where five such stages would be assembled together with the spacecraft for a manned Mars expedition. More...
  • Jarvis American orbital launch vehicle. Launch vehicle planned for Pacific launch based on Saturn V engines, tooling. Masses, payload estimated. More...

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