Saturn C-8

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Saturn C-8
Saturn C-8 Launch Vehicle
Function Heavy Manned Launch vehicle
Manufacturer Never Assigned
Country of origin United States
Cost per launch (1985) c. $58,300,000 (USD)
Height 131m
Diameter 12.19 m
Mass 4,770,260 kg
Stages 3
Payload to LEO 210,000 kg
Launch history
Status Unbuilt
Launch sites Kennedy Space Center
Total launches 0
First stage - Increased Diameter S-IC
Engines 8 F-1
Thrust 6,314,600 kgf (61,925 kN)
Specific impulse 304 s (3.02 kN·s/kg)
Burn time 157 seconds
Fuel LOX/Kerosene
Second stage - Increased Diameter S-II
Engines 8 J-2
Thrust 842,822 kgf (8,265.26 kN)
Specific impulse 425 s (4.17 kN·s/kg)
Burn time 306 s
Fuel LOX/LH2
Third stage - S-IVB Stretch
(Details not available, description is for standard S-IVB)
Engines 1 Rocketdyne J-2
Thrust 1 MN (225,000 lbf)
Burn time 165 + 335 seconds
(2 burns)
Fuel LH2/LOX

The Saturn C-8 was the largest member of the Saturn series of rockets to be designed.[1] It was a potential alternative to the Nova rocket, should NASA have chosen a direct-landing method of lunar exploration for the Apollo program. The first stage was an increased diameter version of the S-IC. The second stage was an increased diameter S-II stage. Both of these stages had eight engines, as opposed to the standard five. The third stage was a stretched S-IVB stage, which retained its original diameter and engine.

When NASA announced on September 7, 1961 that the government-owned Michoud Ordnance Plant near New Orleans, LA, would be the site for fabrication and assembly of the Saturn first stages as well as larger vehicles in the Saturn program. Finalists were two government-owned plants in St. Louis and New Orleans. The height of the factory roof at Michoud meant that an 8 x F-1 engined launch vehicle (Saturn C-8, Nova class) could not be built; 4 or 5 engines would have to be the maximum. This decision ended consideration of a Nova class launch vehicle for Direct Ascent to the Moon or as heavy-lift derivatives for Earth Orbit Rendezvous. Ultimately, the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous ("LOR") concept approved in 1962 rendered the C-8 obsolete, and the smaller Saturn C-5 was developed instead under the designation "Saturn V", as the LOR spacecraft was within its payload capacity.

The Saturn C-8 configuration was never taken further than the design process, as it was too large and costly.


  1. ^ "Saturn C-8". Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  • Bilstein, Roger E, Stages to Saturn, US Government Printing Office, 1980. ISBN 0-16-048909-1. Excellent account of the evolution, design, and development of the Saturn launch vehicles.
  • Stuhlinger, Ernst, et al., Astronautical Engineering and Science: From Peenemuende to Planetary Space, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1964.
  • NASA, "Earth Orbital Rendezvous for an Early Manned Lunar Landing," pt. I, "Summary Report of Ad Hoc Task Group Study" [Heaton Report], August 1961.
  • David S. Akens, Saturn Illustrated Chronology: Saturn's First Eleven Years, April 1957 through April 1968, 5th ed., MHR-5 (Huntsville, AL : MSFC, 20 Jan. 1971).
  • Final Report, NASA-DOD Large Launch vehicle Planning Group, NASA-DOD LLVPG 105 [Golovin Committee], 3 vols., 1 Feb. 1962

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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