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The Birth of NASA’s Saturn C-1 Rocket

20 Dec 2019, 12:55 UTC
The Birth of NASA’s Saturn C-1 Rocket
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The beginning of the Space Age was ushered in by a series of Soviet space spectaculars which clearly demonstrated that the Soviet Union had an immense lead in rocket technology. One of the more compelling measures of this lead was payload capability: typical Soviet spacecraft were over an order of magnitude heavier than their miniaturized American counterparts. But even before the end of the first year of the Space Age, a group of engineers at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) lead by German rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun were already developing a heavy-lift launch vehicle, initially called the Juno V, that would dwarf even the largest Soviet rocket (see “Juno V: The Birth of the Saturn Rocket Family”). Eventually dubbed “Saturn”, this evolving family of launch vehicles would be capable of orbiting payloads with a mass of tens of tons.
Portrait of Wernher von Braun in his office with models of the Mercury-Redstone, Juno II and an early Saturn rocket concept. (NASA/MSFC)
While the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) initially embraced the von Braun team’s Saturn concept with enthusiasm, by the close of 1958 fiscal realities combined with uncertainties about mission requirements were ...

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