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Saturn I & IB Rockets

The Saturn Family of Rockets

Illustration of Saturn rockets.
Saturn Rockets
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The United States launched 32 Saturn rockets between 1961 and 1975. The Saturn family of rockets included the Saturn I (10 launches), Saturn IB (9 launches), the three-stage Saturn V (12 launches), and the two-stage Saturn V (1 launch). Although some flights experienced significant problems, no Saturn rocket failed catastrophically in flight.

Saturn rockets were used in support of the Apollo lunar missions, the launch of the Skylab space station, Ferrying crews to and from Skylab, and to launch the American half of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Saturn I

The Saturn I Rocket

Illustration of Saturn I and IB rockets.
Saturn I and IB Rockets
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The U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), under the direction of Wernher von Braun, began developing the Saturn I rocket in 1957. The unique first stage was composed of clustered tanks. This clustering of smaller tanks, rather than manufacturing larger tanks, allowed the use of tooling from the Redstone and Jupiter missile programs.

The first Saturn rockets to fly were the Saturn I. Between 1961 and 1965, ten Saturn I rockets were launched. All were successful. The first four Saturn I missions were known as block 1. Block 1 missions flew with an S-I first stage, and dummy upper stages. The last six Saturn I missions were known as block 2. Block 2 missions included an uprated S-I stage and an S-IV second stage. Several of the block-2 missions orbited boilerplate Apollo spacecraft and Pegasus satellites. Among the largest payloads in orbit at that time, the Pegasus satellites were designed to detect micrometeoroid hits.

The Saturn I design later evolved into the Saturn IB rockets of the Apollo era.

S-I First Stage

The S-I stage was manufactured by Chrysler and was powered by eight H-1 engines.

The main portion of the stage was comprised of a cluster of nine propellant tanks. The eight outer tanks were fabricated using Redstone rocket tooling. The core fuel tank, larger in diameter then the eight outer tanks, was fabricated using Jupiter rocket tooling. The S-I stage was fueled with RP-1 and Liquid Oxygen.

Early missions flew without aerodynamic fins. Block 2 missions, starting with SA-105, included eight fins to provide stability.

S-IV Second Stage

Block 2 flights included the S-IV second stage. The S-IV, built by Douglas Aircraft Company, was powered by six Pratt and Whitney RL-10 engines. The engines were gimbaled and used liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as propellants.

Saturn 1 Block 1 rocket illustration Saturn 1 Block 1 rocket illustration Saturn 1 Block 1 rocket illustration Saturn SA-4 rocket illustration Saturn SA-5 rocket illustration Saturn SA-6 rocket illustration Saturn SA-6 rocket illustration Saturn SA-9 rocket illustration Saturn SA-9 rocket illustration Saturn SA-9 rocket illustration 1.8 Meter Human Figure

Saturn I Rockets (Left to right) S-101, S-102, SA-103, SA-104, SA-105, SA-106, SA-107, SA-108, SA-109, and SA-110.

Saturn I Mission Table
S-101 (SA-1) 27OCT1961 --- Test Flight
S-102 (SA-2) 25APR1962 --- Test Flight
SA-103 (SA-3) 16NOV1962 --- Test Flight
SA-104 (SA-4) 28MAR1963 --- Test Flight
SA-105 (SA-5) 29JAN1964 --- First test of
live second stage.
SA-106 (A-101)28MAY1964 CSM Boilerplate First test of
CSM Boilerplate
SA-107 (A-102)18SEP1964 CSM Boilerplate Test Flight
SA-108 (A-104)25MAY1965 Pegasus B,
CSM Boilerplate
Test Flight
SA-109 (A-103)16FEB1965 Pegasus A,
CSM Boilerplate
Test Flight
SA-110 (A-105)30JUL1965 Pegasus C,
CSM Boilerplate
Test Flight

Saturn 1 Rocket Photos

Photos of the Saturn 1 (Block 2) at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The second stage apears to be a mock-up and is lacking many external details found on actual S-IV stages. (Photos: Richard Kruse, 2007)

Saturn 1 overview Saturn 1 rocket Saturn 1 looking up Saturn 1 first stage Saturn 1 launcher Saturn 1 closeup Saturn 1 payload Saturn 1 full view Saturn 1 H-1 rocket Saturn 1 H1 detail Saturn 1 H-1 thrust chamber Saturn 1 side view Saturn 1 first stage bottom Saturn 1 first stage details Saturn 1 stage aft Saturn 1 Saturn 1 H-1 cluster Saturn 1 launch support Saturn 1 launch support side view Saturn 1 launch support end view Saturn 1 launch support detail Saturn 1 launch support closeup

Saturn IB

Saturn IB Rocket

The Saturn-IB featured an uprated S-I first stage and the new S-IVB second stage.


Developed by McDonnell Douglas, the S-IVB served as second stage for S-IB rockets, and later as third stage for Saturn V rockets. Fueled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, the S-IVB was powered by a single J-2 engine.

Saturn IB Missions

The S-IB rocket flew nine times. Early missions included tests of the S-IVB stage, Apollo command and service module tests, and one flight with a Lunar Module. The first crewed mission, Apollo 7 (SA-205), was flown in October, 1968. In the 1970's Saturn IB rockets launched all three Skylab crews and the American half of the Apollo-Soyuz test project.

Saturn IB rocket illustration Saturn SA-202 rocket illustration Saturn SA-203 rocket illustration Saturn SA-204 rocket illustration Saturn SA-205 rocket illustration Saturn SA-206 rocket illustration Saturn SA-207 rocket illustration Saturn SA-208 rocket illustration Saturn SA-210 rocket illustration 1.8 Meter Human Figure

Saturn IB Rockets (Left to right) AS-201, AS-202, AS-203, Apollo 5, Apollo 7, Skylab 2, Skylab 3, Skylab 4, and ASTP.

Saturn IB Mission Table
SA-201 AS-201 26FEB1966 CSM-009 First test flight of Saturn IB.
SA-202 AS-202 25AUG1966 CSM-011A Test of CSM.
SA-203 AS-203 5JUL1966 --- Test flight.
SA-204 Apollo 5 22JAN1968 LM-1 Earth orbit test of Lunar Module.
SA-205 Apollo 7 11OCT1968 CSM-101 Earth orbit.
SA-206 Skylab 225MAY1973 CSM-116 First Skylab crew.
SA-207 Skylab 328JUL1973 CSM-117 Second Skylab crew.
SA-208 Skylab 416NOV1973 CSM-118 Third Skylab crew.
SA-210 ASTP15JUL1975 CSM-111 Docked with Soyuz 19.

Saturn IB Rockets on Display

Saturn IB at the Alabama Welcome Center

(Photos: Richard Kruse, 2008)

Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB First Stage Saturn IB Interstage Saturn IB Second Stage Saturn IB First Stage Saturn SIV-B Saturn IB SLA Saturn IB Detail Saturn IB Base Saturn IB Base Saturn IB Base Saturn IB Base

Saturn IB at Kennedy Space Center

(Photos: Richard Kruse, 2009)

Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB Saturn IB


Roger E. Bilstein, Stages to Saturn - A Technological History of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles, NASA SP-4206. 1980.

David S. Akens, Saturn - Illustrated Chronology, NASA MSFC MHR-5. 1971.

Charles D. Benson and William Barnaby Faherty, Moonport: - A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations, NASA SP-4204. 1978.

Saturn V News Reference, NASA. 1967.

Creative Commons License Images by Richard Kruse are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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