About the S-IC

About the S-IC

The Saturn V was a three-stage American rocket used by NASA to support the Apollo program and later Skylab, the first American space station. The first stage, known as the S-IC, was (and the one at INFINITY is) 138 feet long and 33 feet in diameter. The stage's business end could produce more than 7.5 million pounds of thrust from five massive F-1 engines, four mounted on a steerable outer ring and a fifth engine rigidly fastened in the center. When ignited, the roar produced by the five engines together equaled the sound of 8 million 1960s-era hi-fi sets. The liquid oxygen and kerosene combined and burned in the engines for 2.5 minutes, then, at an altitude of about 38 miles, the empty stage separated from the rest of the ascending rocket and burned up as it returned to Earth.

The few S-1Cs that still exist today were either test articles or what remain of cancelled flights. This piece, originally slated for the cancelled Apollo 19 mission, is the last unpreserved piece of Apollo hardware currently not on display - until now. It sits as a testament to U.S. technical confidence, political courage, and scientific ambitions. The booster segment was built at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, transported by barge to the Stennis Space Center, where it was tested and validated for launch. But upon the cancellation of the Apollo program, the hardware was returned to Michoud for display. For more than 35 years, the stage was outside at MAF weathering hurricanes, salt air, and blistering sunshine. With a grant from the State of Mississippi, INFINITY brought the booster to the science center. If not saved, future generations will wonder what became of it or worse, forget the lessons of Apollo's "lost missions" all together.