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The Apollo 10 S-IC stage is hoisted in the Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking
Country of originUnited States
Used onSaturn V
General characteristics
Height42 m (138 ft)
Diameter10 m (33 ft)
Gross mass2,280,000 kg (5,030,000 lb)
Empty mass130,000 kg (290,000 lb)
Launch history
Total launches13
(stage only)
First flightNovember 9, 1967 (Apollo 4)
Last flightMay 14, 1973 (Skylab 1)
Engine details
Powered by5 × F-1
Maximum thrust34,500 kN (7,750,000 lbf) at sea level[1]
Specific impulse263 s (2.58 km/s)
Burn time150 seconds

The S-IC (pronounced S-one-C[2][3]) was the first stage of the American Saturn V rocket. The S-IC stage was manufactured by the Boeing Company. Like the first stages of most rockets, most of its mass of more than 2,000 t (4,400,000 lb) at launch was propellant, in this case RP-1 rocket fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX) oxidizer. It was 42 m (138 ft) tall and 10 m (33 ft) in diameter. The stage provided 34,500 kN (7,750,000 lbf)[1] of thrust at sea level to get the rocket through the first 61 km (38 mi) of ascent. The stage had five F-1 engines in a quincunx arrangement. The center engine was fixed in position, while the four outer engines could be hydraulically gimballed to control the rocket.



The Boeing Co. was awarded the contract to manufacture the S-IC on December 15, 1961. By this time the general design of the stage had been decided on by the engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The main place of manufacture was the Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. Wind tunnel testing took place in Seattle and the machining of the tools needed to build the stages at Wichita, Kansas.

MSFC built the first three test stages (S-IC-T, the S-IC-S, and the S-IC-F) and the first two flight models (S-IC-1 and -2).[4]

It took roughly seven to nine months to build the tanks and 14 months to complete a stage. The first stage built by Boeing was S-IC-D, a test model.[4]

In addition to the four test stages, NASA ordered 15 flight stages (S-IC-1 through -15) to support the initial Apollo program.[4] In July 1967, NASA awarded Boeing a contract to begin long-lead-time item acquisition (such as propellant lines and tank components) for the 16th and 17th S-IC stages. A full contract for the construction of S-IC-16 to S-IC-25 was drafted throughout mid-1967, but stages past S-IC-15 were canceled altogether in October of that year due to budgetary restrictions.[5][6] S-IC-16 to -25 would have been utilized for follow-on Apollo missions, including those from the Apollo Applications Program.



The S-IC was composed of five major subsections.

The largest and heaviest single component of the S-IC was the thrust structure, with a mass of 24 short tons (48,000 lb; 22,000 kg).[7] It was designed to support the thrust of the five engines and redistribute it evenly across the base of the rocket. There were four anchors which held down the rocket as it built thrust. These were among the largest aluminum forgings produced in the U.S. at the time, 4.3 m (14 ft) long and 816 kg (1,799 lb) in weight. The four stabilizing fins withstood a temperature of 1,100 °C (2,010 °F).[8]

The five F-1 engines were ignited in 3 staggered events, where the center engine was first ignited, followed by two outer engines, and then the remaining two outer engines. These three ignition events were separated by just 300 milliseconds.[4] This staggered ignition approach lessened the loads on the thrust structure, as an instantaneous ignition of all five engines would impart immense stress on the stage.

Above the thrust structure was the fuel tank, containing 730,000 L (730 m3; 26,000 cu ft) of RP-1 fuel.[8] The tank itself had a mass of over 12 short tons (24,000 lb; 11,000 kg) dry[7] and could release 4,900 L/s (4.9 m3/s; 170 cu ft/s). Nitrogen was bubbled through the tank before launch to keep the fuel mixed.[8] During the flight the fuel was pressurized using helium, which was stored in tanks in the liquid oxygen tank above. Both the thrust structure and fuel tank had alternating black and white paint, in order to monitor the vehicle's roll during flight.

Between the fuel and liquid oxygen tanks was the intertank. This contained propellant fill and drain lines for the liquid oxygen tank as well as a portion of the five liquid oxygen feed lines for the engines.

The liquid oxygen tank held 1,204,000 L (1,204 m3; 42,500 cu ft) of LOX. It raised special issues for the designer. The lines through which the LOX ran to the engine had to be straight (as any bend would slow the flow of LOX, which would necessitate even larger and heavier piping) and therefore had to pass through the fuel tank. This meant insulating these lines inside a tunnel to stop fuel freezing to the outside and also meant adding five extra holes in the top of the fuel tank.[8]

Atop the liquid oxygen tank sat the forward skirt, which connected the S-IC to the S-II stage and contained telemetry equipment and LOX tank vent lines.

Two solid motor retrorockets were located inside each of the four conical engine fairings. At separation of the S-IC from the flight vehicle, the eight retrorockets fired, blowing off removable sections of the fairings forward of the fins, and backing the S-IC away from the flight vehicle as the engines on the S-II stage were ignited.

The propellant tanks of the S-IC were manufactured from 2219-series aluminum panels, while the interstage, forward skirt, and thrust structure were built from 7075-series aluminum. The latter three sections also were corrugated with external stringers, providing additional structural support. The propellant tanks did not feature external stringers, as the tank pressurization provided sufficient rigidity.[4]

The S-IC also carried the ODOP transponder to track the flight after takeoff.

Stages built

Serial number Use Launch date Current location Notes
S-IC-T Static test firing Part of Saturn V display at Kennedy Space Center.[9] First all-up S-IC stage built, nicknamed "T-Bird." Assembled between 1963-1965. Completed at least 22 test firings between 1965 and 1967 in support of S-IC development and test stand activation.[4]
S-IC-S Structural load testing (had no engines). Scrapped after completing testing at MSFC.[4]
S-IC-F Facilities testing for checking out launch complex assembly buildings and launch equipment. Returned to MSFC for storage after testing, later scrapped.[4] Conducted propellant tank loading tests at LC-39A using Mobile Launcher 1.
S-IC-D Ground test dynamics model U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama
34°42′38.7″N 86°39′24.2″W / 34.710750°N 86.656722°W / 34.710750; -86.656722
S-IC-1 Apollo 4 November 9, 1967 Manufactured by MSFC.
S-IC-2 Apollo 6 April 4, 1968 Manufactured by MSFC; carried TV and cameras on boattail and forward skirt.
S-IC-3 Apollo 8 December 21, 1968 30°12′N 74°7′W / 30.200°N 74.117°W / 30.200; -74.117 Manufactured by Boeing (as with all subsequent stages); weighed less than previously manufactured units allowing 36 kg more payload.
S-IC-4 Apollo 9 March 3, 1969 30°11′N 74°14′W / 30.183°N 74.233°W / 30.183; -74.233
S-IC-5 Apollo 10 May 18, 1969 30°11′N 74°12′W / 30.183°N 74.200°W / 30.183; -74.200 Last flight for S-IC R&D Instrumentation.
S-IC-6 Apollo 11 July 16, 1969 30°13′N 74°2′W / 30.217°N 74.033°W / 30.217; -74.033 One or more engines recovered by a team financed by Jeff Bezos.[10]
S-IC-7 Apollo 12 November 14, 1969 30°16′N 74°54′W / 30.267°N 74.900°W / 30.267; -74.900
S-IC-8 Apollo 13 April 11, 1970 30°11′N 74°4′W / 30.183°N 74.067°W / 30.183; -74.067
S-IC-9 Apollo 14 January 31, 1971 29°50′N 74°3′W / 29.833°N 74.050°W / 29.833; -74.050
S-IC-10 Apollo 15 July 26, 1971 29°42′N 73°39′W / 29.700°N 73.650°W / 29.700; -73.650
S-IC-11 Apollo 16 April 16, 1972 30°12′N 74°9′W / 30.200°N 74.150°W / 30.200; -74.150
S-IC-12 Apollo 17 December 7, 1972 28°13′N 73°53′W / 28.217°N 73.883°W / 28.217; -73.883
S-IC-13 Skylab 1 May 14, 1973 Engine shutoff changed to 1-2-2 from 1–4 to lessen loads on Apollo Telescope Mount.
S-IC-14 Unused Saturn V display at Johnson Space Center. Scheduled to fly Apollo 18 in 1974, never flew.[4]
S-IC-15 Unused On display at Michoud Assembly Facility until June 2016 then preserved at INFINITY Space Center in Mississippi. Originally intended to fly Apollo 19 in 1974. Designated but never used as a backup Skylab launch vehicle.[4]
S-IC-16 Never completed Assembly canceled during long-lead item procurement.[4]
S-IC-17 Never completed Assembly canceled during long-lead item procurement.[4]

See also



  1. ^ a b Thorne, Muriel, ed. (May 1983). NASA, The First 25 Years: 1958-1983 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration. p. 69.
  2. ^ Murray, Charles A.; Cox, Catherine Bly (Jul 1989). Apollo, the race to the moon. Simon and Schuster. p. 54. ISBN 9780671611019.
  3. ^ Woods, W. David (2011-08-08). How Apollo Flew to the Moon. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 24. ISBN 9781441971791.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kyle, Ed. "Saturn Vehicle History". spacelaunchreport.com. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022.
  5. ^ "Michoud Assembly Facility January 1, 1967 - December 31, 1967" (PDF). uah.edu. Retrieved 2023-03-18.
  6. ^ "Saturn Illustrated Chronology Part 8". history.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2023-03-18.
  7. ^ a b http://www.apolloexplorer.co.uk/pdf/saturnv/First%20Stage.pdf
  8. ^ a b c d "chapter 7". history.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2021-10-23.
  9. ^ Casebolt, Barry J. (March 18, 1974). "Headed for Florida Museum — Veteran Moon Rocket Booster Leaves MSFC". The Huntsville Times. Huntsville, Alabama.
  10. ^ Pearlman, Robert Z. (March 22, 2013). "Jeff Bezos' Salvaged Apollo Rocket Engines Reach Shore After Ocean Recovery". Space. New York City, New York. Retrieved June 1, 2021.