71

Hobbes' answer focuses on why we might want to build SLS. There are also significant barriers to rebuilding Saturn/Apollo. In addition to the (vast) amount of existing technical documentation on those designs, there's a (probably vaster) pool of knowledge that the individuals who actually built the things collected during the process. Nearly all of those ...


67

Your picture is not of a Saturn V, it's of a Saturn IB. The purpose of the elevated platform (known as the "milkstool") is to lift the rocket up so that it can be launched from Pad 39B using the same connections to the launch tower that the much taller Saturn V used. The early Saturn IB launches used the shorter Pad 34 and Pad 37, but by 1973, those launch ...


62

Going directly to the Moon would require a very small launch window. The Earth orbit before enabled a launch window of about 3 to 4 hours, see this question. Abort from an Earth orbit was possible when the second ignition of the third stage of the Saturn V failed using the Service Module engine to initiate a reentry. Time in orbit was used to complete the ...


46

I don't know of any features on the Saturn V that are solely aesthetic in purpose. The flags and USA markings come closest, but they are ostensibly there to identify the origin of the vehicle. The overall white paint scheme is to minimize heating of the cryogenic propellant tanks from sunlight. The interrupted black stripes along the fuselage provide visual/...


44

There is very little to gain by going straight to the Moon, and as @Uwe has said, it makes the timing of the launch extremely demanding. Let me have my go at explaining why there is very little to gain. The most fuel efficient way for a rocket to get from Earth to the Moon is basically to accelerate as close to the Earth as possible until it is moving at ...


38

There are several reasons: We can do better these days. Saturn and Apollo were designed in the early 1960s, so the design tools used were mainly pen and paper, with some primitive computer tools thrown in here and there. These days CAD can be used to create a design that performs far better (because you can design parts closer to the strength they need, ...


37

What a fascinating question! Turns out it's less flammable. Ground Supply Fluid—Because the flash point of RP-1 fuel, which supplies the system in flight, is 110 to 139° F, it is classified as a Class Ill flammable liquid, not suitable for ground operations. A study was made to find substitute fluids with properties similar to RP-1 that could be ...


33

The one at the Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville has been stored outside so it wasn't in good shape. Displayed outdoors and on its side since 1969, the rocket was exhibiting widespread paint failure, moisture infiltration, an overall accumulation of atmospheric and biological soiling, and corrosion of its complex system of metal alloys, including ...


31

The early prototypes of the A4/V2 were painted in the familiar black-and-white roll pattern scheme. This scheme was designed to aid in tracking the rocket after launch. This pattern made it easy to observe any variation or roll of the rocket. The exact pattern was changed many times, and as with the rest of the rocket, the pattern was examined and ...


30

Some switches were normally left in one position for the entire mission, and would only be changed in unusual situations. One particular semi-famous example is the switch controlling the power supply for a module called the Signal Conditioning Equipment (SCE), which was necessary for sending telemetry from the spacecraft to mission control. It had two ...


30

I think you may have a misunderstanding that isn't addressed by any of the other answers. It is true that most of a rocket's work in entering orbit is building up enough speed to reach orbital velocity. But you have to build up even more speed to make it to the moon. In fact, while they were on their way to the moon they were still in orbit around the earth,...


29

If the angular rates on the first stage are not close to zero there is a chance of the inter-stage contacting the engine bells. (Falcon 1 flight 2?) With a separate inter-stage the upper stage can hang onto it (protecting the engine bells) until under propulsion and rapidly accelerating away from it reducing the chance of contact.


28

NOTE All dollar values are in present day values accounting for inflation. Another reason we're not reusing the Saturn V is the same reason it was cancelled in the first place: cost. The SLS is supposed to be half the cost per launch. Whether that works out remains to be seen. The Saturn V was expensive. The Saturn V program cost \$47 billion over 10 ...


28

Three factors come to mind from my reading over the years: Heat Shield integrity, Escape Tower limitations, and avoiding fuel over the CM on the pad. Throughout this answer, keep in mind that the stacking order (from the top) is Escape Tower (ET), Command Module (CM), Service Module (SM), Lunar Module Shroud, Lunar Module (LM). See the full Saturn V diagram ...


28

No, the blueprints were not destroyed or lost. (This is) a claim John Lewis made in his 1996 book, Mining the Sky, that he went looking for the Saturn 5 blueprints a few years ago and concluded, incredibly, they had been "lost." Paul Shawcross, from NASA's Office of Inspector General, came to the agency's defense in comments published on CCNet -- a ...


28

Offered as a supplement, since no one has posted a direct size comparison: The height difference in the Saturn V and Saturn 1-B is clear in this image. Edit: SA-1 through -9 are Saturn 1s, SA-201 through -205 are 1-Bs, the last 2 are Vs. The mission payloads, from left to right: SA-1, development flight with dummy second stage and payload SA-4, more ...


26

In order to use the direct ascent method of landing on the moon, which is where the entire vehicle descends and leaves the moon, you would need a rocket an order of magnitude bigger than the Saturn V, not just a bit bigger. Here's an early comparison NASA made back before they decided to use Lunar Orbit Rendezvous: The C1 became the Saturn I, the C-5 ...


25

I carefully examined the Saturn V in Houston (in particular the instrumentation unit) few months ago. There's no way this Saturn V would fly for a couple reasons: It was stored outside and suffered lots of corrosion and damage. It was restored enough to be exhibited but the metal still has lots of corrosion covered by paint. The instrumentation unit is ...


24

The amount by which a spacecraft is able to change its velocity is called it's Δv (delta-velocity) budget. You can calculate the Δv-budget of each stage of a rocket using the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation which reads: $$ \Delta v = I_{sp} * 9.81 * \ln \frac {Mass_{full}} {Mass_{dry}} $$ where Isp is the specific impulse ("fuel-efficiency") of the engine. The ...


22

The requirements of the first stage are that it deliver about 3340 m/s of delta v to a 690 ton payload (the upper stages and spacecraft), with an initial thrust-to-weight ratio of at least 1.16:1. The best candidate for a first-stage hydrogen engine in the Saturn era would be the never-completed M-1. At sea level, it would be much less powerful than the F-1,...


22

For the Saturn V, the first and second stages both cut off when a low-propellant-level sensor tripped in the tanks. Most launchers' booster stages do something similar -- burning to total depletion would be dangerous for a number of reasons noted here. For the S-IC first stage, it wasn't unusual to leave 30 tons of propellant unconsumed, as Apollo By The ...


21

During the early part of the Apollo program, the "direct ascent" mode was favored and Lunar-orbit rendezvous (LOR) was considered far too complex. In fact, the specifications of the Apollo service module were set by the direct ascent plan: the SPS engine is sized to lift off from the moon, and the fuel tankage is sufficient for lunar ascent and return to ...


21

From Stages to Saturn p. 212 The dual-plane separation was an alternative to a method called "fire in the hole," which involved ignition and separation of the S-II while still in contact with the interstage but not attached to it. Designers preferred to avoid this alternative because of possible perturbations and oscillations at the end of the ...


21

This question seems to hinge on a fundamental misunderstanding about space, that is, to be fair, extremely common among the general public. It's the idea that space has no gravity, so things in space are weightless. "But wait!" you say. "I've seen videos of astronauts in space, and they sure seem weightless to me." And you'd be right, they do seem ...


21

This answer is a guess based on NASA Technical Note D-5869: Description and performance of the Saturn launch vehicle's navigation, guidance and control system (referred to as 'D-5869' below), also the Launch Vehicle Digital Computer pages (referred to as 'LVDC' below) and finally the description in the video in the question (referred to as 'the video' below)....


20

According to Wikipedia, Saturn V could launch 48600 kg to translunar injection. From there, you need about 2410m/s of ∆v to soft-land on the moon. Let's take a little additional fuel for safety margin and call it 2700m/s. Per the rocket equation, assuming you're using a rocket that uses storable hypergolic propellants with a specific impulse of 312s (...


19

Yes, there are a LOT of switches and there are a lot that aren't used during during normal flight; but, Some switches are only used for pre-flight and post-flight; but, they do get used. Some switches are used for emergency/exception conditions and unfortunately did get used (Ex: for Apollo 13). Since there wasn't much automation on Apollo, the astronauts ...


19

I can answer the Shuttle part. The test in question was the Mated Vertical Ground Vibration Test (MVGVT). Here's how the stack looked in the test stand. Five configurations were tested Liftoff First stage (SRBs attached) early, mid, and late 2nd stage For the launch testing, the SRBs stood on hydrodynamic supports which "provided the vertical support ...


18

Apparently the issue could not be addressed in time for the Apollo 13 mission as is evidenced by this note in the NASA archives available online. During the Apollo 13 flight the pogo effect had reappeared, this time on the second stage. Severe oscillations had forced an early shutdown (two minutes ahead of schedule) of the inboard engine. The NASA ...


18

The largest US rockets currently in practical development are the Falcon Heavy (aka Falcon 9 Heavy) and the NASA SLS Block 1. NASA is likely to use the Falcon Heavy should SLS funding be cut; the SLS is subject to Congressional appropriations and executive budget decisions, neither of which could kill the Falcon project. According to the Wikipedia entry, ...


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