American companies learned a lot from building the Saturn; it was experience that was applied to the other fleets of rockets they built - the advanced versions of the Atlas, Delta and Titan families. However, it took over 30 years for these expendable rockets to match even the thrust of the Saturn IB, itself only as powerful as a single F-1 engine on the base of a Saturn V. After Apollo, America's heavy lift capability was entrusted to the Space Shuttle, which could match the lift-off thrust of the Saturn V but only by the dangerous expedient of employing massive solid-fuelled boosters that tragically constrained the spacecraft's safety during ascent.
It is debatable whether the Shuttle system was a more cost-effective means of lifting large payloads into space. However, not only did the Saturn never kill anyone as it roared into space, it also gave crews survivable options to escape from serious
mishap at every stage of its flight. Yet, despite its spectacular success, the remaining Saturn V stages now hang as museum pieces or as lawn ornaments at various NASA centres while exquisitely built F-1 and J-2 engines sit out in the Florida rain to be poked and prodded by curious tourists. One day they will be joined by the surviving Shuttles.
Was this article helpful?