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How NASA brought the monstrous F-1 “moon rocket” engine back to life

There has never been anything like the Saturn V, the launch vehicle that powered the United States past the Soviet Union to a series of manned lunar landings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The rocket redefined "massive," standing 363 feet (110 meters) in height and producing a ludicrous 7.68 million pounds (34 meganewtons) of thrust from the five monstrous, kerosene-gulping Rocketdyne F-1 rocket engines that made up its first stage. ( More...

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andy talty 6
and no where in there was Werner von Braun mentioned ;(
karl kettler 5
Yep and it was a German von Braun creation!
Toby Sharp 2
"for sale: 1 F-1 Moon Rocket, 30 years gami jectors! FAST FAST FAST!"
Dorel 2
Lunar landings ...? Where?
Ted Fisher 2
Fairly certain the ducting you mention is the injection of cold fuel/oxidizer. The F-1 was a regeneratively cooled engine. This cools the engine cone and pre-heats the fuel before injection. It's apparently a delicate design balance, but Werner knew what he was doing... Wikipedia has a detailed description.
Ted Fisher 2
Fairly certain the ducting you mention is the injection of cold fuel/oxidizer. This cools the engine cone and pre-heats the fuel before injection. It's apparently a delicate design balance, but Werner knew what he was doing...
Matt Lacey 2
I wonder what the other 596 people in the propulsion directorate at Marshall are doing.
mark tufts 1
very interesting
Bill Babis 1
Very interesting reading. After reading how quickly these things gulp fuel and how weight critical launch vehicles are, why are we launching from sea level and taking the longest way into orbit? I know we cant launch from Mt. Everest but wouldn't the high desert offer tremendous savings? How much fuel did the Saturn V use in its first mile and a half of vertical lift? Just my thoughts. Any rocket scientists out there?
They launch next to the ocean so the parts coming off land in the ocean and for safety. Also I would guess more predictable weather.
Torsten Hoff 1
Additionally you want to launch close to the Equator to get an extra push from the Earth's rotation. That's why the Ariane gets launched in Guiana and why SpaceX launch off a barge in the Pacific.
Matt Lacey 1
SpaceX does not launch off of a barge in the Pacific. They have an active launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and are building one at Vandenberg AFB.

Sea Launch launches off of a converted oil platform on the equator in the Eastern Pacific.
mskierki 1
Also the amount of height you are talking is relatively negligible. For low earth orbit we are talking an altitude of 100~1200 mi. So moving from sea level to 6,000 or even 8,000 feet above sea level only saves you 1% of the height, not really a whole lot. Also because the gravity is effectively the same at both points there isn't a whole lot of realized energy savings.

As was posted before typically these sites are chosen for being relatively remote and not surrounded by a population center. Hence the US typically uses Cape Canaveral and Russia uses the Baikonur Cosmodrome (which is only ~300 feel asl).
Bill Babis 1
That first 1% of height uses up a much greater percent of the total fuel because of the time involved due to acceleration. It might take 15-20 sec to go that first 1% while later it takes only .15 sec to go 1%. Not arguing, its just something that makes me wunder. Thanks for your inputs.
Bill Babis 1
Good points guys. I'm sure all the factors of a space launch are mind boggling but I think altitude has to be the biggest factor concerning fuel which is most of the weight. The equator thing makes sense also but launching with the pull of the moon overhead may be a greater benefit.
Matt Lacey 1
Could you imagine the logistics of getting something to Mt. Everest? Rocket science needs to be rocket business (and mostly is, except for NASA's government-designed and fielded rockets which are a financial albatross). Designing technically reliable systems that are also low cost is crucial.
Brian Bishop 1
Really cool article. I love the "let's take this thing apart and see how it works" attitude, and then to be able to recreate such an iconic piece of history digitally is just awesome. To think of seeing these beasts in action again is incredible. I took my son to the Kennedy Space Center for his 16th birthday a few years back and to walk the length of that Saturn V and think about the energy nvolved in geting it into orbit was just mind boggling. Great work to all those at Marshall. Thanks for sharing!
karl kettler 1
Can anyone identify the purpose of that huge external ducting wrapped around the engine shroud?
Brian Bishop 1
It explains it it the article. It's the exhaust from the smaller engine (55,000 shaft HP) used to power the main fuel pumps.
People forget that the solid booster design specs were changed based on requirements of Morris Udal to allow his Utah vendor to bid. Original specs for the solid boosters required a solid single cylinder (hence no joints to fail). Challenger was a result of politics not science!
Edgar Murphy 0
Why are writers obsessed with inserting metric conversion speed bumps into every sentence that contains a number?
Ian Page 3
Er, because over 95% of the world's population hasn't got a clue what a mile or a pound are??

But I do get really annoyed by metric conversions to 3 or 4 or even 5 significant figures when the non-metric has only 1 or 2. Applause to Ars Technica for not going down that ridiculous route....
Toby Sharp 1


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