Saturn C-8

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Saturn C-8
Saturn C-8 Launch Vehicle
Function Manned lunar landing by direct ascent for Apollo program
Manufacturer None
Country of origin United States
Height 430 feet (131 m)
Diameter 40.0 feet (12.19 m)
Width 75.0 feet (22.87 m)
Mass 10,516,620 pounds (4,770,260 kg)
Stages 3
Payload to LEO 460,000 pounds (210,000 kg)
Payload to Translunar injection 163,000 pounds (74,000 kg)
Associated rockets
Family Saturn
Launch history
Status Study 1962
Launch sites Kennedy Space Center
First stage – S-IC-8
Length 160.1 feet (48.79 m)
Diameter 40.0 feet (12.19 m)
Width 75.0 feet (22.87 m)
Empty mass 399,900 pounds (181,400 kg)
Gross mass 7,997,200 pounds (3,627,500 kg)
Engines 8 F-1
Thrust 13,921,000 pounds-force (61,925 kN)
Specific impulse 304 seconds (2.98 km/s) sl
265 seconds (2.60 km/s) vac
Burn time 157 seconds
Fuel RP-1/LOX
Second stage – S-II-8
Length 140.0 feet (42.68 m)
Diameter 33.0 feet (10.06 m)
Empty mass 139,940 pounds (63,480 kg)
Gross mass 1,699,400 pounds (770,800 kg)
Engines 8 J-2
Thrust 1,858,100 pounds-force (8,265.26 kN)
Specific impulse 425 seconds (4.17 km/s) vac
Burn time 338 s
Fuel LH2/LOX
Third stage – S-IVB
Length 61.7 feet (18.80 m)
Diameter 21.7 feet (6.61 m)
Empty mass 29,345 pounds (13,311 kg)
Gross mass 264,370 pounds (119,920 kg)
Engines 1 Rocketdyne J-2
Thrust 220,000 pounds-force (1,000 kN)
Specific impulse 425 seconds (4.17 km/s) vac
Burn time 165 + 335 seconds
(2 burns for TLI)
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.

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 April 2017. 
  • 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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