Saturn-Apollo 1 (SA-1)
|Launch date|| 27 Oct 1961 - 15:06:04 UTC|
|Launch site|| CC, LC-34|
|| Saturn 1 (#SA-1)|
|Mission|| Rocket test|
|nbsp; - Altitude|| 136.2 km|
|nbsp; - Distance|| 344 km downrange|
|Landing|| 27 Oct 1961 - 15:21:04 UTC|
|Duration|| 15 min 0 s|
Initial Saturn-Apollo test, first launch Saturn 1 rocket with dummy upper stages.
|Prime contractor || |
|Spacecraft mass at launch ||52480 kg|
|Dry Mass|| kg|
|Basic shape |
|DC power || |
- The Saturn I booster was a huge increase in size and power over anything previously launched. It was three times taller, required six times
more fuel and produced ten times more thrust than the Jupiter-C rocket that had launched the first American satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit in 1958.
- At the time, NASA had decided to not use all-up testing, when an entire system is tested at once. The agency planned to test each rocket stage in
separate launches, so for SA-1 the only live stage was the S-I first stage.
- This first flight was designed to test the structure of the launch vehicle during a suborbital flight using the nose cone from a Jupiter rocket.
Largest known rocket launch to date, the Saturn I 1st stage booster, successful on first test flight
from Atlantic Missile Range. With its eight clustered engines developing almost 1.3 million pounds of
thrust at launch, the Saturn (SA-1) hurled waterfilled dummy upper stages to an altitude of 84.8 miles
and 214.7 miles down range. In a postlaunch statement, Administrator Webb said: The flight today
was a splendid demonstration of the strength of our national space program and an important milestone in
the buildup of our national capacity to launch heavy payloads necessary to carry out the program projected
by President Kennedy on May 25.
- At 12:30 p.m. EST on October 26, 1961, the RP-1 propellant started to flow into the rocket. One hundred and three percent of the fuel
required was put into the rocket, as it was possible to easily drain fuel. Just before launch, surplus fuel was removed from the tanks.
- Liquid oxygen began flowing into its tanks at 3:00 a.m. the next day. It followed the same procedure as the RP-1 with the tanks being filled to
10 percent to check for leaks, then fast filled to 97 percent, then slowly topped off.
- Despite a couple of delays due to bad weather, the rocket was launched only one hour behind schedule. The engineers had given the rocket only a
75 percent chance of lifting off and only a 30 percent chance of completing a nominal flight. Even with a nominal flight some damage was thought
possible. At the Redstone Arsenal, ground testing had shattered windows 12 km away.
- The sound of the launch was a disappointment for some witnesses, being described as like an Atlas rocket launch, when observers stood 2.4 km away
instead of three miles (5 km) for a Saturn launch. It was later determined that the cause of the difference between the Cape and the Redstone Arsenal
was atmospheric conditions damping the sound.
- The flight itself was nearly perfect. The rocket reached a height of 136.5 km and impacted 345.7 km down range from the launch site in the
Atlantic Ocean. The only real problem was the rocket cut off 1.6 seconds ahead of schedule. This was traced to the fact that there was 400 kg too
much liquid oxygen and 410 kg too little RP-1. For the test flight, SA-1 only carried a propellant load that was 83 percent full.
Ref.: #6b, #7, #8, #98 - update: 20.08.04