Apollo picks up the pace

  • David M. Harland
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


On 19 January 1959 NASA took over the Air Force’s contract with Rocketdyne for the development of the F-l kerosene-burning engine. The prototype was test fired on 10 February 1961. By sustaining 1.55 million pounds of thrust for several seconds, it broke the record for a single-chamber engine by a considerable margin. On 9 April 1961 it was announced that the engine had achieved 1.64 million pounds of thrust. On 26 May 1962 the engine was fired at full power for its intended operating time of 150 seconds. Meanwhile, Rocketdyne began the development of the 200,000-pound-thrust hydrogen-burning J-2 engine that was to power the upper stages of the Saturn launch vehicle. The first full-duration test of this engine was on 27 November 1963. The Douglas Aircraft Corporation fired an S-IVB stage utilising a single J-2 engine at full power for 10 seconds on a static rig at its Sacramento facility on 4 December 1964. But it was a ‘battleship’ variant (equivalent to a ‘boilerplate’ for a spacecraft) having tankage made of thick stainless steel instead of the lightweight aluminium of the operational vehicle. On 7 December 1964 the first S-IVB mockup — which was accurate in terms of mass, centre of gravity and structural stiffness, but with models of the engine and other systems — was delivered to the Marshall Space Flight Center for stress testing. On 16 April 1965 the first S-IC stage utilising five F-l engines was test fired for several seconds at NASA’s Mississippi Test Facility. On 24 April the S-II stage utilising five J-2 engines was test fired at Rocketdyne’s facility at Santa Susana in California. On 5 August the S-IC made a full-duration test during which it responded to steering commands provided by the blockhouse.


Propulsion System Launch Vehicle Liquid Oxygen Engine Compartment Flight Path Angle 
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Copyright information

© Praxis Publishing Ltd. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Harland
    • 1
  1. 1.Kelvinbridge GlasgowUK

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