Three launch configurations of the Apollo Saturn IB rocket: no spacecraft (AS-203), Command/Service module (most missions); and Lunar Module (Apollo 5)
|Function||Apollo spacecraft development;
S-IVB stage development in support of Saturn V;
Skylab crew launcher
|Country of origin||United States|
|Height||141.6 ft (43.2 m)
without payload 
|Diameter||21.67 ft (6.61 m) |
|Mass||1,300,220 lb (589,770 kg)
without payload 
|Payload to LEO||46,000 lb (21,000 kg)|
|Launch sites||LC-37 & LC-34, Cape Canaveral
LC-39B, Kennedy Space Center
|First flight||February 26, 1966|
|Last flight||July 15, 1975|
|Notable payloads||Unmanned Apollo CSM
Unmanned Apollo LM
|First stage - S-IB|
|Engines||8 * H-1|
|Thrust||1,600,000 lbf (7,100 kN)|
|Burn time||150 seconds|
|Second stage - S-IVB-200|
|Engines||1 Rocketdyne J-2|
|Thrust||200,000 lbf (890 kN)|
|Burn time||480 seconds|
The Saturn IB (pronounced "one B", also known as the Uprated Saturn I) was an American launch vehicle commissioned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the Apollo program. It replaced the S-IV second stage of the Saturn I with the much more powerful S-IVB, able to launch a partially fueled Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM) or a fully fueled Lunar Module (LM) into low Earth orbit for early flight tests before the larger Saturn V needed for lunar flight was ready.
By sharing the S-IVB upper stage, the Saturn IB and Saturn V provided a common interface to the Apollo spacecraft. The only major difference was that the S-IVB on the Saturn V burned only part of its propellant to achieve Earth orbit, so it could be restarted for translunar injection. The S-IVB on the Saturn IB needed all of its propellant to achieve Earth orbit.
The Saturn IB launched two unmanned CSM suborbital flights, one unmanned LM orbital flight, and the first manned CSM orbital mission (first planned as Apollo 1, later flown as Apollo 7). It also launched one orbital mission, AS-203, without a payload so the S-IVB would have residual liquid hydrogen fuel. This mission supported the design of the restartable version of the S-IVB used in the Saturn V, by observing the behavior of the liquid hydrogen in weightlessness.
In 1973, the year after the Apollo lunar program ended, three Apollo CSM/Saturn IBs ferried crews to the Skylab space station. In 1975, one last Apollo/Saturn IB launched the Apollo portion of the joint US-USSR Apollo Soyuz Test Project. A backup Apollo CSM/Saturn IB was assembled and made ready for a Skylab rescue mission but never flown.
The remaining Saturn IBs in NASA's inventory were scrapped after the ASTP mission as no use could be found for them and all heavy lift needs of the US space program could be serviced by the cheaper and more versatile Titan III family.
NASA defines launch vehicle as the rocket stages and guidance system that launches a spacecraft. A space vehicle is a complete launch stack: the launch vehicle, spacecraft and any shrouds or adapters.
|Parameter||S-IB 1st Stage||S-IVB-200 2nd Stage||Instrument Unit|
|Height||80.17 ft (24.44 m)||58.42 ft (17.81 m)||3.00 ft (0.91 m)|
|Diameter||21.42 ft (6.53 m)||21.67 ft (6.61 m)||21.67 ft (6.61 m)|
|Structural mass||92,500 lb (42,000 kg)||23,400 lb (10,600 kg)||4,400 lb (2,000 kg)|
|Propellant mass||880,500 lb (399,400 kg)||228,500 lb (103,600 kg)||N/A|
|Engines||Eight - H-1||One - J-2||N/A|
|Thrust||1,600,000 lbf (7,100 kN) sea level||200,000 lbf (890 kN) vacuum||N/A|
|Burn duration||150 s||480 s||N/A|
|Specific impulse||272 s (2.66 kN·s/kg) sea level||420 s (4.12 kN·s/kg) vacuum||N/A|
|Parameter||Command/Service Module||Apollo 5||AS-203|
|Launch Escape System mass||9,200 lb (4,200 kg)||N/A||N/A|
|Apollo Command/Service Module mass||36,400 lb (16,500 kg) to
46,000 lb (21,000 kg)
|Apollo Lunar Module mass||N/A||31,650 lb (14,360 kg)||N/A|
|Spacecraft LM Adapter mass||4,050 lb (1,840 kg)||4,050 lb (1,840 kg)||N/A|
|Nose cone height||N/A||8.3 ft (2.5 m)||27.7 ft (8.4 m)|
|Payload height||81.8 ft (24.9 m)||36.3 ft (11.1 m)||27.7 ft (8.4 m)|
|Total space vehicle height||223.4 ft (68.1 m)||177.9 ft (54.2 m)||169.4 ft (51.6 m)|
The S-IB stage was built by the Chrysler corporation at the Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. It was powered by eight H-1 rocket engines burning RP-1 fuel with liquid oxygen (LOX). Eight Redstone tanks (four holding fuel and four holding LOX) were clustered around a Jupiter rocket LOX tank. The four outboard engines were mounted on gimbals, allowing them to be steered to control the rocket. Eight fins surrounding the base thrust structure provided aerodynamic stability and control.
- Height: 80.17 ft (24.44 m)
- Diameter: 21.42 ft (6.53 m)
- Number of fins: 8
- Finspan: 39.42 ft (12.02 m)
- Engines: 8 H-1
- Thrust: 1,600,000 lbf (7,100 kN)
- Fuel: RP-1 (Refined kerosene) 41,000 US gal (155 m3)
- Oxidizer: Liquid oxygen (LOX) 66,000 US gal (250 m3)
- Burn time: 2.5 min
- Burnout altitude: 37 nmi (69 km)
The S-IVB was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company at Huntington Beach, California. The S-IVB-200 model was similar to the S-IVB-500 third stage used on the Saturn V, with the exception of the interstage adapter, smaller auxiliary propulsion control modules, and lack of on-orbit engine restart capability. It was powered by a single J-2 engine. The fuel and oxidizer tanks shared a common bulkhead, which saved about ten tons of weight and reduced vehicle length over ten feet.
- Height: 58.42 ft (17.81 m)
- Diameter: 21.67 ft (6.61 m)
- Engine: single J-2
- Thrust: 200,000 lbf (890 kN)
- Fuel: Liquid hydrogen (LH2) 64,000 US gal (242 m3)
- Oxidizer: Liquid oxygen (LOX) 20,000 US gal (76 m3)
- Burn time: approx. 7 min
- Burnout altitude (for Saturn IB): orbit
IBM built the Instrument Unit at the Space Systems Center in Huntsville, AL. Located at the top of the S-IVB stage, it consisted of a Launch Vehicle Digital Computer (LVDC), an inertial platform, accelerometers, a tracking, telemetry and command system and associated environmental controls. It controlled the entire rocket from just before liftoff until battery depletion. Like other rocket guidance systems, it maintained its state vector (position and velocity estimates) by integrating accelerometer measurements, sent firing and steering commands to the main engines and auxiliary thrusters, and fired the appropriate ordnance and solid rocket motors during staging and payload separation events.
As with other rockets, a completely independent and redundant range safety system could be invoked by ground radio command to terminate thrust and to destroy the vehicle should it malfunction and threaten people or property on the ground. In the Saturn IB and V, the range safety system was permanently disabled by ground command after safely reaching orbit. This was done to ensure that the S-IVB stage would not inadvertently rupture and create a cloud of debris in orbit that could endanger the crew of the Apollo CSM.
Launch sequence events
|Launch event||Time (s)||Altitude (km)||Range (km)|
|Initiate Pitch Maneuver||10.0||.||.|
|Initiate Roll Maneuver||10.0||.||.|
|End Roll Maneuver||38.0||.||.|
|Inboard Engine Cutoff||140.65||.||.|
|Outboard Engine Cutoff||144.32||.||.|
|Ullage Rockets Ignition||145.37||.||.|
|S-IB / S-IVB Separation||145.59||.||.|
|Ullage Rocket Burnout||148.33||.||.|
|Ullage Rocket Jettison||156.58||.||.|
|Start Pitch Over||613.95||.||.|
|Start S/C Sep Sequence||663.11||.||.|
Saturn IB vehicles and launches
The Saturn IB was used between 1973 and 1975 for three manned Skylab flights, and one Apollo-Soyuz Test Project flight. This final production run did not have alternating black and white S-IB stage tanks, or vertical stripes on the S-IVB aft tank skirt, which were present on the earlier vehicles. Since LC-34 and 37 were inactive by then, these launches utilized Kennedy Space Center's LC-39B. To accommodate the height differential between the Saturn IB and the much larger Saturn V, a "milkstool" apparatus was attached to the Mobile Launcher Platform No. 1. The "milkstool" enabled the Apollo Command Module's hatch to reach the Launch Umbillical Tower's crew access arm and accommodate all the ground support connections related to fuelling and support.
|SA-201||AS-201||20,820||February 26, 1966||Unmanned suborbital test of Block I CSM
|SA-203||AS-203||None||July 5, 1966||Unmanned test of unburned LH2 behavior in orbit
to support S-IVB-500 restart design
|SA-202||AS-202||25,810||August 25, 1966||Unmanned suborbital test of Block I CSM|
|SA-204||Apollo 1||20,412||Was to be first manned orbital test of Block I CSM.
Cabin fire killed astronauts and damaged CM during
dress rehearsal for planned February 21, 1967 launch
|Apollo 5||14,360||January 22, 1968||Unmanned orbital test of Lunar Module,
used Apollo 1 launch vehicle
|SA-205||Apollo 7||16,520||October 11, 1968||Manned orbital test of Block II CSM|
|SA-206||Skylab 2||19,979||May 25, 1973||Block II CSM ferried first crew to Skylab orbital workshop|
|SA-207||Skylab 3||20,121||July 28, 1973||Block II CSM ferried second crew to Skylab orbital workshop|
|SA-208||AS-208||Standby Skylab 3 rescue CSM-119; not needed|
|Skylab 4||20,847||November 16, 1973||Block II CSM ferried third crew to Skylab orbital workshop|
|SA-209||AS-209||Standby Skylab 4 and later Apollo-Soyuz rescue CSM-119.
Not needed, currently on display in the KSC rocket garden
|Skylab 5||Planned CSM mission to lift Skylab workshop's orbit
to endure until Space Shuttle ready to fly; cancelled.
|SA-210||ASTP||16,780||July 15, 1975||Apollo CSM with special docking adapter module,
rendezvoused with Soyuz 19. Last Saturn IB flight.
|SA-212||Unused. First stage scrapped.
S-IVB stage converted to Skylab space station.
|SA-213||Only first stage built. Unused and scrapped.|
|SA-214||Only first stage built. Unused and scrapped.|
For earlier launches of vehicles in the Saturn I series, see the list in the Saturn I article.
Saturn IB rockets on display
Currently there are three locations where Saturn IB vehicles (or parts thereof) are on display:
- SA-209 is on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, with the Apollo Facilities Verification Vehicle. Due to severe corrosion, the first stage engines and Service Module were replaced with fabricated duplicates in 1993–1994.
- The SA-211 first stage is on display with the S-IVB-S "Battleship" static test stage stacked in a launch-ready condition at the Alabama Welcome Center on I-65 in Ardmore, Alabama. 
- The SA-211 S-IVB stage was converted to a Skylab mockup and is on display at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
In 1972, the cost of a Saturn IB including launch was US$55,000,000 ($310,000,000 in 2014).
- Postlaunch report for mission AS-201 (Apollo spacecraft 009) -, NASA, May 1966, retrieved March 18, 2011
- Wade, Mark. "Saturn IB". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- "Saturn IB History". Retrieved 2009-11-01.
- Reynolds, David West (2006). Kennedy Space Center: Gateway to Space. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books Ltd. pp. 154–157. ISBN 978-1-55407-039-8.
- Dooling, Dave (May 6, 1979). "Space and Rocket Plans Summer Celebration". The Huntsville Times.
- Hughes, Bayne (April 6, 2014). "Iconic rocket due for repair". Decatur Daily. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
- "SP-4221 The Space Shuttle Decision- Chapter 6: ECONOMICS AND THE SHUTTLE". NASA. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center, PDF (19.8 MB), 30 September 1972
- PDF (61.2 MB)