Saturn V

The Saturn V (Saturn-5) was used for Nasa’s late 1960’s/early 1970’s Apollo Moon Programme and for the launching Skylab Space Station in the 1970’s.

Saturn V Picture

Launched astronauts on Apollo Spacecraft to the Moon between 1968-1972

Saturn V was also used to launch Skylab Space Station.

Apollo 8 in 1968 was the first manned spacecraft to leave earth orbit and the first manned circumlunar mission.

The first moon landing was achieved in 1969.


The Saturn V used three stages as the moon rocket for Apollo. The stages were:

Stage 1 is also known as S-IC. It was powered by five F-1 rocket engines which used kerosene and liquid oxygen (Lox) as propellants.  At lift-off it produced more than 7.5 million pounds of thrust and had a burn time of 167.3 seconds. It was 42 metres (138 feet) tall and 10.1 metres (33 feet) in diameter. Boeing built the first stage.

Stage 2 is also known as S-II.  It was powered by five J-2 rocket engines which used Liquid hydrogen and Lox as propellants. It was 24.8 meters (81.5 feet) in height. After the first stage was discarded, the second stage burned for approximately six minutes, taking the vehicle and payload to 185 kilometres (115 miles) altitude. North American built the second stage. McDonnell Douglas built the third stage.

Stage 3 is also known as S-IVB.  It was powered by one liquid J-2 rocket engine which used Liquid hyrgoen and Lox as propellants. The stage was 17.8 meters (58.3 feet) in height.

The J-2 engine burned for 2.75 minutes boosting the spacecraft to orbital velocity of about 28,160 kilometres (17,500 miles) per hour. The third stage was shut down with fuel remaining and remained attached to the spacecraft in Earth orbit. The J-2 engine was reignited to propel the spacecraft into translunar trajectory at a speed of 39,430 kilometres (24,500 miles) per hour. McDonnell Douglas built the third stage.

How much fuel does a Saturn V rocket use?

The first stage carried 770,000 litres (203,400 gallons of kerosene and 1.2 million litres (318,000 gallons) of liquid oxygen.

How Big was the Saturn V?

The total height of the Saturn V with the three stages and the Apollo Payload the Saturn V was 111 meters (363 feet) high. In this configuration it was the largest rocket ever constructed in the 20th century.


13 Saturn V rockets in total were launched from 1967 until 1973.

Saturn V launched 2 unmanned spacecraft, 10 crewed and Skylab payload. The missions were as follows:

  1. Apollo 4 was the first test launch of the Saturn V.
  2. Apollo 6 – second launch The second launch was
  3. Apollo 8: First Saturn V launch with a crew. It was the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth’s orbit, to orbit leave Earth orbit, reach the Earth’s Moon, orbit the moon and to return to Earth.
  4. Apollo 9: First flight of the Command / Service Module and the Lunar Module in Earth orbit.
  5. Apollo 10: Second Apollo mission to orbit the moon.
  6. Apollo 11: First Moon landing.
  7. Apollo 12: Second mission to land on the moon.
  8. Apollo 13: Mission was abandoned.
  9. Apollo 14: It was the 3rd moon landing.
  10. Apollo 15: First manned moon mission using the Lunar Roving Vehicle.
  11. Apollo 16: Second last apollo mission.
  12. Apollo 17: Last Apollo Mission
  13. Skylab: Created by McDonnell Douglas by converting one of its S-IVB sections into the space station.

There were plans to develop a Saturn rocket that used NERVA to send a mission to Mars. Unfortunately, the Saturn V was abandoned!

Saturn 5 Picture

Did you know?

N-1 was the Soviet Unions Moon Rocket. It was the Soviet counterpart of the American Saturn-V.

* We know the Soviet’s lost the moon race. Please note: Lunar 15 Orbiter was in orbit at the time the Eagle landed. The Soviets sent a moon sample return mission to beat the Americans. It was unsuccessful. If it was successful, the Soviets could have said it was cheaper to use an unmanned spacecraft.


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