Encyclopedia Astronautica
Saturn C-3BN



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Saturn C-3N Nov 61
Saturn C-3N Nov 1961
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Saturn A-1 to C-5
Credit: © Mark Wade
American nuclear orbital launch vehicle. Version of Saturn C-3 considered with small nuclear thermal stage in place of S-IVB oxygen/hydrogen stage.

LEO Payload: 94,000 kg (207,000 lb) to a 185 km orbit at 28.00 degrees. Payload: 38,000 kg (83,000 lb) to a translunar trajectory.

Stage Data - Saturn C-3BN

  • Stage 1. 1 x Saturn IC C-3B. Gross Mass: 1,160,787 kg (2,559,097 lb). Empty Mass: 72,549 kg (159,943 lb). Thrust (vac): 22,954.798 kN (5,160,444 lbf). Isp: 304 sec. Burn time: 140 sec. Isp(sl): 265 sec. Diameter: 10.06 m (33.00 ft). Span: 19.00 m (62.00 ft). Length: 34.41 m (112.89 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 5. Engine: F-1. Status: Study 1961. Comments: Final first stage design of Saturn C-3 (November 1961).
  • Stage 2. 1 x Saturn II C-5A. Gross Mass: 384,057 kg (846,700 lb). Empty Mass: 31,740 kg (69,970 lb). Thrust (vac): 4,446.648 kN (999,646 lbf). Isp: 420 sec. Burn time: 320 sec. Isp(sl): 200 sec. Diameter: 10.06 m (33.00 ft). Span: 10.06 m (33.00 ft). Length: 21.39 m (70.17 ft). Propellants: Lox/LH2. No Engines: 5. Engine: J-2. Status: Study 1961. Comments: Final common second stage design for Saturn C-3, C-4 and C-5 (November 1961). Developed into Saturn V second stage.
  • Stage 3. 1 x Saturn S-N C-3BN. Gross Mass: 32,470 kg (71,580 lb). Empty Mass: 7,708 kg (16,993 lb). Thrust (vac): 266.799 kN (59,979 lbf). Isp: 800 sec. Burn time: 720 sec. Diameter: 10.06 m (33.00 ft). Span: 10.06 m (33.00 ft). Length: 16.56 m (54.33 ft). Propellants: Nuclear/LH2. No Engines: 1. Engine: Nerva. Status: Study 1961. Comments: Nuclear upper stage considered in lieu of S-IVB in final Saturn C-3B study in November 1961.

Status: Study 1961.
Gross mass: 1,690,110 kg (3,726,050 lb).
Payload: 94,000 kg (207,000 lb).
Height: 87.00 m (285.00 ft).
Diameter: 10.06 m (33.00 ft).
Thrust: 20,010.00 kN (4,498,420 lbf).
Apogee: 185 km (114 mi).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • F-1 Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 7740.5 kN. Isp=304s. Largest liquid rocket engine ever developed and flown. Severe combustion stability problems were solved during development and it never failed in flight. First flight 1967. More...
  • J-2 Rocketdyne lox/lh2 rocket engine. 1033.1 kN. Study 1961. Isp=421s. Used in Saturn IVB stage in Saturn IB and Saturn V, and Saturn II stage in Saturn V. Gas generator, pump-fed. First flight 1966. More...
  • Nerva DoE nuclear/lh2 rocket engine. 266 kN. Study 1968. Early version of Nerva engine proposed for use in Saturn and RIFT configurations in 1961. Isp=800s. More...

See also
  • 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. 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...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Von Braun American manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Von Braun, USA. More...

Associated Stages
  • Saturn IC C-3B Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 1,160,787/72,549 kg. Thrust 22,954.80 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 304 seconds. Final first stage design of Saturn C-3 (November 1961). More...
  • Saturn II C-5A Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 384,057/31,740 kg. Thrust 4,446.65 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 420 seconds. Final common second stage design for Saturn C-3, C-4 and C-5 (November 1961). Developed into Saturn V second stage. More...
  • Saturn S-N C-3BN Nuclear/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 32,470/7,708 kg. Thrust 266.80 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 800 seconds. Nuclear upper stage considered in lieu of S-IVB in final Saturn C-3B study in November 1961. More...

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