Saturn V for D
“I love space! Send me stuff about space, pleeease!!”
Thank you D. It’s been awhile since I dove into a pile of all things Saturn V. Everything about the Apollo Program is amazing. Reliving my project with the Saturn V at the Johnson Space Center has given me the warm and fuzzies.
What was the Saturn V? It was a massive rocket that powered the entire Apollo program and Skylab into…space. 363 feet tall, fully assembled on the launch platform, human engineers designed a way to focus an explosion into enough propulsion to win the space race to the moon. NASA gives a very concise answer to this question here.
You, my young friend, have a wealth of information at your finger tips!
Start at the NASA Image and Video Library. Search “Saturn V” and behold. This is my first recommendation because it is a wonderful archive of images. The inflight/launch images are incredible, though you probably recognize them, as they are pretty popular.
I myself, love the construction, transportation and testing images. It takes special equipment to move Stage S-1C, as it’s 33 feet in diameter and 138 feet tall. Find one of the photos where the stage is diagonal, at the halfway mark as it’s being lifted vertical; they are some of my favorites.
In addition, the diagrams you will see are so cool. They are some of the most wonderful and informative historical pieces to look through.
I also love this diagram. It is one of simplest diagrams, photocopied straight from materials at the time of the program: https://www.jsc.nasa.gov/portal_pdfs/saturnV.pdf
And MORE diagrams here!
NASA used to have a “Great Images in NASA” site; it has been converted to a Flickr account called: nasacommons. It is super easy to search. They have even started a “Saturn V” Album, though it only has 25 photos in. I bet you end up with way more favorites after an hour looking at the NASA Image and Video Library.
While you’re in the library, don’t forget to search “Apollo”. Listen to some of the real historical audio and videos. You can watch the real footage of the launch of the Apollo 11 Mission.
Books, books, books! Web/online reprints of many NASA books can be accessed from here. Once you’re in a book it doesn’t have the most obvious buttons to navigate. Look for the blue underlined “NEXT” at the bottom right of the screen or find an adult that is familiar with pre-2000 web design. For Saturn V history, I highly recommend Stages to Saturn: A Technological History of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles, by Roger E. Bilstein. It’s super technical, but also gives you grounding in the how the Saturn V was developed and constructed.
So much stuff can be found on the NASA History site. Ignore the flash error at the top and go bananas! You can find everything from other reference materials to the text of the original National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.
I am not an aerospace or rocket expert, but as your mom probably told you, I worked on the Conservation of Saturn V Rocket on display at the Johnson Space Center from 2004 to its completion in 2006. I also worked on Saturn V Rocket on display at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. I was the project manager in charge of the construction of the building and the conservation work on the rocket.
The project was a joint effort between the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and NASA’s Johnson Space Center, using a Save America’s Treasures Grant from the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Collectspace.com did a great job of following the project. I have always enjoyed their complete record, which you can read and see the images here. There’s a few images of me in there, but you might need your mom’s help to recognize me in the hard hat, safety goggles and work boots.
The History Channel did a piece in 2005, Apollo: The Race Against Time. Astronaut Gene Cernan is interviewed about the program and the episode talks about the challenges of preserving artifacts that were designed to go into space, not sit on display. You can watch the one-hour special here. How many times can you spot me and Jerry? ;)
D, I love how excited you are! Space is amazing! Astronauts and the scientists and engineers that get them into space are champions! There’s so much information out there, and I remember more and more about my project every minute I keep researching. I don’t even know where to stop!
So you tell me, where to next? What do you want to learn more about? Whatever questions you have, big or small, fire away! I will do my best to point you in the right direction.
Lots of love,
P.S. I will try and find some of the photos I took of the rocket.