Back The Booster: Saturn V Needs Your Help

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For those of a certain age like me, the Apollo moon missions captured most people’s imagination. I remember vividly watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, and the tension throughout the entire world while engineers and astronauts tried to get the Apollo 13 crew back home alive. Eventually, the last two Apollo missions were canceled, but much of the hardware had been already built. This is the bottom booster stage from what would have been Apollo 19, and it’s currently located right where it’s been for the last 45 years in the Michoud Assembly Facility around New Orleans. Back in 1970, the stage was moved from Michoud, where it was assembled, to what is now the Stennis Space Center, test fired, and then returned to Michoud, where it has remained. This is the last large piece of hardware left from the Apollo era, and many would like to see it preserved for posterity.

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The business end of the booster is 138 feet away from the nose, and even empty of fuel it weighs 303,000 pounds. Those five engines were capable of 7.5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff–what a shame they were never used for their intended purpose. Now the Infinity Science Center, ironically located at the Stennis Space Center where the stage was test fired, would like to move the booster to the museum (approximately 40 miles), protect the booster from further deterioration, and eventually conserve and restore it. NASA is willing to give them the booster, but it will take approximately $500,000 to move it to the museum, so the museum has created a Kickstarter project to fund the move.

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There’s a video here via collectspace.com that explains more about the project–one of the speakers in the video is Fred Haise, the Apollo 13 Lunar Module pilot and the man that would have commanded Apollo 19 if the mission had not been scrubbed. You can see Mr. Haise above by the booster. Taylor Hardenstein with the Infinity Museum states in the video “[Apollo] was the greatest, most ambitious undertaking of the modern age and it is absolutely important that we pass on what we learned from the people and machines that made it possible, but to do that, we need your help.

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You can see the deterioration of the booster in this picture–it makes me sad. I hope the museum is successful in its quest and that this last Apollo rocket gets to make its final trip.

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Comments

  1. Chris

    If you ever have a chance to see a Saturn 5 up close I highly recommend it. Absolutely amazing all the engineering involved. The one at Kennedy is split in sections and you can see all the interstage connections. Amazing it all actually worked.

  2. Howard A Member

    Hmmm, just what I need. Leftover NASA stuff. Seriously, I agree with Chris. I saw the Saturn V at Kennedy Space Center, and it is mind-blowing. 1st, the sheer size of this thing is unbelievable, bigger than a football field, and the stats are equally impressive. The entire project cost 6.4 billion( 41.3 billion today) and each launch cost 494 million ( 3.2 billion today) Like Chris sez, it’s amazing this thing even took off. There’s more plumbing than in a Home Depot. I heard, there was no real way to test these things, so these astronauts were basically guinea pigs on early launches. It had an impressive record with 13 launches and only one partial failure, Apollo 6.

  3. JW

    I remember all of the launches from the beginning of the space program until the end of the shuttle program. I’ve seen the Shuttle close up and when I lived in Florida use to watch it launch from my back yard, what a amazing site especially early in the morning before complete sunrise. Yes it should be preserved with so much of our history being destroyed good or bad by the progressive world we live in.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi JW, my late parents have a time share in Cocoa Beach, and while the Saturn V launches were a tad before my time, we did see many Shuttle launches, ( and to a lesser extent, those relatively small “weather satellites”, ya’ sure they were) from the beach ( usually packed with tourists). I agree, the night time ones were truly spectacular. Even from 30 miles away, the whole sky lit up, and you could feel the rumble. As amazing a spectacle as that was, I wasn’t there for the Challenger disaster, which, could you imagine the shock? I heard they closed the beach for weeks, while they picked up the pieces. We have many things in regular life now, thanks, in part, to the space program. This piece, however, not so sure about. Maybe the Russian’s would be interested, for parts, you know. :)

      • JW

        Hi Hoard and yes the launches were spectacular even from a long way, lived in Port Charlotte on the west side of the state and still could see them after they were up about a 100 ft. We moved back to Illinois before the Challenger disaster. Also you are so correct how much the space program has effected our everyday lifes.

  4. jim s

    the rocket is on its side with wheels on. take it to the salt flats and light the thing off. see if it can set a new land speed record. i’m sure someone would be brave enough to ride up front and steer! i do hope they raise enough money to save this.

  5. Marco

    They “test fired” it? With 7.5 MILLION Pounds of thrust? How does that Happen?

    Since it’s already on wheels not sure why it should cost half a million bucks to move it a few miles. But hope they save it.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Marco, it has to make part of the trip by barge. It’s really an interesting engineering feat!

  6. ric Parrish

    That old 1937 solid fuel rocket, designed in Nazi Germany in 1937, blasted all that junk (including a ‘jeep’) to the surface of the moon, which is over 250 degrees F in the day and over 400 degrees below zero at night? Hmmmmmmmm. Preposterous.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Ric, I’m not sure what you are speaking of here. This is neither a solid fuel rocket nor was it designed in 1937. My suggestion would be to go see one of the Saturns at some point…the one at Kennedy Space Center is impressive.

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