After writing about the future of NASA, it’s time to visit the Apollo Saturn V building, located at the Kennedy Space Center. When President John F. Kennedy stated on May 25, 1961, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth” NASA was faced with the task of developing a rocket that could achieve this mission. The Saturn V rocket was developed and used successfully from 1968 to 1972. The only way to see this rocket, is to take the complimentary bus tour to the building where an original, unused rocket is on display. It is an impressive sight, and the building has been remodeled with some new displays.
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic accident to Apollo 1, and they have added a nice memorial to the three astronauts that lost their lives in the fire.
After watching a brief video, and then a simulated countdown of an Apollo launch, with all the original launch command room equipment, you walk right smack into the five F-1 engines located on the first stage of the rocket. Using a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene fuel, it could reach a speed of 6,000 miles per hour in three minutes.
A side view of stage one.
They have a small-scale model of the entire rocket, and spacecraft. At 363 feet, it is difficult to photograph the original!
The second stage of the rocket on display.
The third stage will take the spacecraft out of Earth’s orbit.
The Apollo spacecraft on top of the rocket consists of three components: the Lunar Module, Service Module and Command Module. The Launch Escape System (below right) is attached to the command module. The photograph below displays an unused command module (with heat-reflective silver coating) attached to a service module below the rocket.
The building contains the command module from Apollo 14, which shows how scarred the spacecraft gets from re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
Apollo 15 was set to carry this Lunar Module to the Moon. However, NASA decided to also send up a Lunar Rover, so the module was redesigned, and this one was never flown in space. It is a crazy looking thing, that seems to be wrapped in gold-colored aluminum foil. The bottom half (with the “foil”) remains on the surface of the moon, and the astronauts return to the command module in the top half.
A Lunar Rover, built from spare parts, is on display in the building.
Along with a spacesuit from Gene Cernan.
There are many additional displays and a few movies to view in the Apollo Saturn V Building. With the bus tour, and stop at the building, you can easily spend 2 – 3 hours viewing the exhibits. It is definitely a “must see” on your visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex. Next up: the Space Shuttle.
Quote for the day: “We hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program.” – Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Commander Apollo One.