Saturn family of rockets were designed to launch heavy payloads into orbits. After 25th of May, 1961, who conceived the idea that various Saturn vehicles can be put together in series to create a vehicle which can launch humans to the moon?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you clarify the question? What do you mean with " various Saturn vehicles can be put together"? The Saturn-family of rockets includes the Saturn I, Saturn IB and Saturn V, all were multi-stage rockets, but they were not "put together in series", each was their own rocket with multiple stages. You might also want to peruse en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_V. $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Mar 16, 2021 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ The basic need for multistage rockets was well understood. Are you interested in details of exactly how many of which type of engine was chosen for each stage? $\endgroup$ Mar 16, 2021 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Niranjan what evidence do you have that your premise that "It must have struck to someone" is true? Why couldn't it have been simply the results of several discussions between several people simply going through all possibilities, finding several solutions, and then rigorously comparing this group of solutions against a long list of criteria before ultimately reaching some consensus in a design review meeting? "It must have been one person, who was it?" is your opinion. If you can't prove it, then why not ask instead "Was it just one person? If so, who was it?" $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 16, 2021 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh - In the book Chariots of Apollo, there is a mention of one gentleman named "LOW" . It goes as follows: "Low urged that manned lunar landings be NASA's next objective. Low stressed study of ways to perform the mission using several of smaller Saturns in some schemes besides direct ascent....." So here is the person I was possibly looking for...Anyway I do not know if you would read this or not, as the question is closed. May be the question is not interesting for the administrators anymore. I expect this site to be "open" free for knowledge sharing - those who are interested. $\endgroup$
    – Niranjan
    Mar 18, 2021 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh - I really appreciate your comments. Interestingly, I found a paragraph in the book "Chariots for Apollo", (pg 9/537), which talks about meetings of the Goett committee, in which, George M Low, one committee member, stressed to study the possibility of using "several of the smaller Saturns", for the mission, other than that of direct ascent using the Nova... It is for this reason, (a direct answer to my question) that I did not edit my question. I will adjust with the working style of S.E. I have a lot more to say on the usefulness of Stack exchange. I face limitation of characters here. $\endgroup$
    – Niranjan
    Mar 19, 2021 at 4:31

1 Answer 1


I suspect this is a duplicate. But here are two quotes from Chariots for Apollo by Courtney G Brooks, James M Grimwood, Loyd S Swenson Jr (this seems to be online here although I didn't discover this until I'd typed the below from my physical copy).

Chapter 2 is what you want to look at, from which page 49, bottom to page 50, top, my interpolations in [square brackets]:

On 16 November [1961], Webb and McNamara reviewed the areas explored by Golovin's group and made several policy decisions. [...] And they decided that the Saturn C-4 should be developed for the rendezvous [as opposed to direct ascent, which would require a really vast vehicle called the Nova] approach to Apollo.

The C-4 was a rather smaller version of the C-5 (which became the Saturn V). From p47:

Configuration: booster stage (four clustered F-1 engines with 26.7-million-newton [6-million-pound] combined thrust) and a second stage (four J-2 engines with combined thrust of 3.6 million newtons [800,000 pounds]). The C-4 was briefly considered but rejected for the C-5.

Then from page 58:

On 4 December 1961, Holmes learned that Seamans essentially agreed with the committee's recommendations. [...] At its first meeting on 21 December, the council voted to develop the Saturn C-5.

The C-5 (p47 again):

Saturn C-5 (renamed Saturn V). Configuration: S-IC booster (five F-1 engines, clustered, with total thrust of 33.4 million newtons [7.5 million pounds]), S-II second stage (five J-2 engines with total of 4.5 million newtons [1 million pounds]), and S-IVB third stage.

'The council' was The Management Council which consisted of:

  • Holmes, Low, Rosen, Charles H Roadman, William E Lilly, Joseph F Shea from headquarters;
  • von Braun, Eberhard F M Rees from Marshall;
  • Gilruth, Walter C Williams (Manned Spaceflight Centre).

The people mentioned by surname only have already been introduced in the text, but I was too lazy to grovel through it to find their full names: sorry. It should be easy in the above online version of the text.

Any infelicities in the above are because I can't type: check it with the online one.

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    $\begingroup$ Great. You have answered my question straight to the point. Thank you so much. Honestly I have also read "Chariots of Apollo", but I concentrated on looking for technical details, rather than such text about decision makers. Thanks anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Niranjan
    Mar 16, 2021 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ Huh; I didn't realize McNamara was involved in the Apollo project; very interesting. $\endgroup$ Mar 16, 2021 at 21:20

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