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In watching some Saturn rocket launches from the perspective of the camera being on the launch tower, it seems as if there was relatively little distance between the launching rocket and the tower. I realize this "little distance" between the rocket and tower is relative, but it looks by eyeball measurements to not really be more than the diameter of the 1st stage of the rocket itself.

Were there precautions built into the guidance software that would prevent gimbaling the motors in such a way as to accidentally move the rocket towards the tower at least until some sort of elapsed time or altitude had been reached to guarantee the tower had been cleared? I know it's highly unlikely that a gust of wind or other external influence could have actually had enough of an effect to move the huge rocket that much. But I am wondering if that contingency had been built into the software to reduce that possibility of an accidental launch collision with the tower.

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Just as with Shuttle, the first stage guidance was pre-programmed to fly a specific flight profile. For Saturn V "guidance corrections are not intro­duced before the early part of the second stage flight."

Reference: DESCRIPTION AND PERFORMANCE OF THE SATURN LAUNCH VEHICLE'S NAVIGATION, GUIDANCE , AND CONTROL SYSTEM (first page of text)

There was a 1.25 degree tilt programmed in to steer away from the tower until tower clear. Then the roll program kicked in to maneuver to the flight azimuth.

Source: How Apollo Flew to the Moon page 86

To my eye at least, the tilt is visible at 8:45 in this video of Apollo 8, then you can see it straighten out at 8:52, just before the camera cuts away.

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  • $\begingroup$ Presumably the center of mass of the Saturn V was not in the F-1s. Therefore it seems to me that inducing a tilt in the attitude would actually bring part of the rocket closer to the launch tower. $\endgroup$ – dotancohen Apr 3 at 15:25

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