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The Most Powerful Machine Man Has Ever Built

Updated on January 5, 2012

The Saturn V "The Moon Rocket"

The Saturn V is unsurpassed in pure, awesome power. It stands at over 360 feet high, weighs three thousand tons, and if it exploded on its launch pad, would release the same amount of energy as a two kiloton nuclear bomb. The Saturn V was designed by Warner Von Braun and his team of German scientists who also defected from Germany. This amazing piece of technology rocketed America to the finish line of the race to the moon, crushing Russia's chances of victory.

How Rockets Work

Rockets that send men and other objects into space are usually liquid fueled rockets, with main exception being the sold rocket boosters which helped blast the Space Shuttle into Orbit. Liquid fueled rockets essentially use an oxidizer and a propellant to create a reaction that yields a high amount of energy and therefore thrust. The oxidizers and propellants can vary, but the design of the rocket can be seen in the diagram on the right. The reaction occurs in the combustion chamber, which must be able to withstand the extreme temperatures and forces of the explosive reaction. These liquid fueled rockets can be throttled, or their power can be adjusted, and can also be turned on and off, which allowed the Apollo missions to get back to Earth after orbiting the moon by re-firing their main engines and escaping the moons gravitational field.

How the Saturn V Changed History

The Saturn V consisted of three rocket stages, a Service Module, a Lunar Lander, and the Command Module. The Saturn V utilized the, at the time, brand new F-1 rocket engine, which is still the most powerful single chamber rocket engine in history. The 1st stage was equipped with five of these extremely powerful engines. The 1st stage used kerosene fuel, while the other two used liquid hydrogen, and all three used liquid oxygen as oxidizers. The three stages combined created over 20 million pounds of thrust which accelerated the astronauts away from Earth and into deep space. In Apollo 10, the astronauts reached a to a maximum velocity of 24,791 miles per hour, which is the fastest speed that any vehicle has traveled. Once each of the stage had burned through all of its fuel, it would be jettisoned and fall back to earth. However, none of the Saturn V was reusable for multiple launches, and thus was very expensive, and lead to the shutting down of the Apollo. program.

My Connection to the Cape

My grandfather was the Pad 39A safety officer for all the Apollo launches that occurred there. My mother was actually born 15 miles from the Pad at Patricks Air Force Base. He actually stopped the countdown for an hour of Apollo 11 because he was concerned about a leak on the Saturn V. The funny thing is, he was a spy in WWII, never got his college degree, and yet was allowed to be the safety officer for the most important historical event in that decade. It's a little suspicious… that a 'former' spy, with no college degree, was made the safety officer of Pad 39A and was so involved in one of the most important and high profile government activities at the time. It's just maybe possible that the CIA may have wanted some 'boots on the ground' in order to keep an eye out for any 'Reds' trying to sabotage the US's endeavors.


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    • profile image

      Tyler Maxey 

      6 years ago

      Very interesting. Modern marvels at their finest. Check out more powerful machines here

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I just took my kids to the Jhonson Space Center yesterday, my son loved the Saturn V on display. My son got a kick when I told him that I witnessed the landing on the moon on TV when I was a kid. I happened to be "sick" that day, I was in the second grade and I was at home with my mother. All channels had the event on and we were watching it on a black and white TV and my mom was ironing clothes. I did not realize how significant that moment was, or how lucky I was until I was an adult.

      To this day I don't know why I, as a 2nd grader, wanted to stay home for that event, I did not even comprehend what it was about, but knew I wanted to be home to see it!

      Thanks for the article!

    • jpkl1021 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Hammel 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for giving me the heads up!

    • ttagpine profile image

      George S McChristian 

      8 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      Very good article. Well written & interesting. There is one mistake I feel I must bring to your attention. 6,164 mph was just the speed from the first stage.

    • jpkl1021 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Hammel 

      8 years ago

      You are so lucky, I would do anything to have lived through all that! Thanks for reading!

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      8 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Great hub! I still enjoy watching the movie "Apollo 13" and remembering all the launches I watched on black and white TV when I was a girl.


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