The Apollo Program   Page 1(2)

The Saturn IB - Apollo


A Saturn-IB first stage (SA-204) is unloaded from NASA barge "Promise" after arrival at Kennedy Space Center.
This particular stage was initially commissioned for the first manned flight with an Apollo spacecraft (CSM-012). Due to a terrible accident during a ground test, in which three astronauts were killed, SA-204 became recommissioned for the Apollo 5 mission: the first spaceborne test with the lunar module.
August 15, 1966
credit to NASA
Scanning credit to Kipp Teague


SA-203 at pad 37B
The Apollo "3" mission was a qualification test on the S-IVB stage
credit to NASA
Scanning credit to Kipp Teague

Saturn IB picture02

Apollo 5 at night
on pad 37.
January 19, 1968
credit to NASA
Scanning credit to Kipp Teague


Apollo 7 lifts off from Cape Kennedy Launch Complex 34 at 11:03 A.M., EDT. October 11, 1968
credit to NASA
Scanning credit to Kipp Teague

Saturn IB - Apollo

The Saturn IB is a two stage launch vehicle and is an improved version of the Saturn I. The configuration which comprises the two stage launch vehicle with the Apollo spacecraft on top stood 71 meters tall.
The Saturn I and IB development program had three objectives:
  1. development of rocket technology: such as clustering of thrust engines to obtain large thrust; application of liquid Hydrogen and Oxygen as propellants; guidance & control.
  2. to provide launch capacity for heavy payloads
  3. to conduct qualification tests in space on the Apollo spacecraft, which was to be used for the upcoming moon missions

Apollo 1: Fire in the cockpit
This mission has never flown. During a ground test a fire inside the spacecraft killed the crew. This event had a huge moral impact on NASA and on the astronaut corps with theirs families in particular. Doubts started to emerge whether NASA was able to manage such a complex space program like the Apollo program. The cause of the fire was analyzed and lead to a large number of design changes and technical changes.

Apollo 2: Qualifying the heatshield of the Apollo Spacecraft
One of the major mission objectives was a re-entry test of the Command module under lunar return flight conditions. In such conditions the spacecraft would enter the atmosphere with a velocity of 40,000 km/hr, which was higher than the 28,000 km/hr for spacecrafts which just had left a near Earth orbit, like in the Gemini missions.

Apollo 3: Qualifying the S-IVB stage for moon missions
This mission was an operational test on the S-IVB stage which was configured for lunar missions. In a lunar mission the S-IVB would be used as third stage in a three stage Saturn V stack. The mission of the S-IVB would be two fold:

  1. to bring the Apollo spacecraft in a parking orbit around Earth;
  2. to boost the spacecraft from the parking orbit into an translunar trajectory in a second burn.
To meet those mission requirements, an elaborate on-board system was needed to preserve the proper conditions in space to be able to re-ignite the S-IVB. That system was an important test object during the Apollo 3 mission.

Apollo 5: Spaceborne systemtest on the Lunar Module
The launch vehicle has originally been scheduled for the first manned Apollo mission. But the mission was cancelled due to a fire during a ground test which killed the crew inside. To honour the parished crew this mission was named Apollo 1 later on. The names of the crew members:
Virgil Grissom (commander)
Edward H. White
Roger B. Chaffee

Apollo 7: Qualifying the Apollo Spacecraft
The most important mission objective was to qualify the Apollo Command & Service module for moon missions. Apollo 7 was the first manned mission with this brand new Apollo spacecraft. All kinds of maneouvres were performed in space as a validation test. It was a stressful mission for all people involved:

  1. The previous attempt of this manned mission failed because of a fatal fire inside the spacecraft during a ground test. All three crew members died. Everybody was affected by this event and this was the first opportunity to redo the mission.
  2. Evaluation reports pointed out that the Apollo spacecraft had quite some design flaws, a few of them appeared to be fatal. This mission had to prove that the spacecraft redesign was sound.
  3. The mission result of Apollo 7 would determine whether it was feasable to have a manned moonlanding before 1970, a deadline which was set by late president Kennedy.


Apollo 7 S-IVB stage in Earth orbit; October 11, 1968 (Gulf of California in the background)
credit to NASA
Scanning credit to Kipp Teague

Gallery of Saturn Launch Vehicles
Saturn IB Launch Vehicles


Saturn V Launch Vehicles


Apollo Program Launch Vehicles


Skylab program Launch Vehicles


Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
Launch Vehicles



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Copyright 2005 by Sander Panhuyzen
Comments and questions are welcome. All pictures and drawings contained on and through these pages are the author's, unless otherwise noted. No unauthorized reproduction without permission.