Spaceflight Insider

NASA Goddard set to celebrate 50th anniversary of Apollo 4

Apollo Saturn V rocket image credit NASA

An Apollo Saturn V rocket on the launch pad. Image Credit: NASA

The NARHAMS model rocket club will join with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first launch of the Saturn V rocket. On November 5, 2017, the two organizations will meet at NASA’s Goddard Visitor Center to commemorate the first Saturn V launch, the flight of Apollo 4, which took place on November 9, 1967.

The celebration will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT and include a presentation with recollections about the mission from personnel who were present for some of the launches of the Saturn V, including journalists, civilian spectators, as well as astronauts. The event will also include displays and launches of Saturn V model rockets by NARHAMS members.

The first test launch of the Saturn V rocket took place on November 9, 1967, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center LC-39A promptly at 7:00 a.m. local time (12:00 GMT). The flight of Apollo 4 was an “all-up” test of the completed Saturn V vehicle, as well as the Lunar Module and Apollo spacecraft heatshield.

The test of the enormous rocket (the Saturn V measured an impressive 363 feet or 111 meters in height), the largest and most powerful rocket ever successfully launched, posed unprecedented problems of technology, engineering, and logistics for NASA. Despite serious problems leading up to the test flight, the mission helped validate the Saturn V’s design and was deemed successful. The Command Module that was carried aloft on Apollo 4 landed some 8.6 nautical miles (16 km) from the target landing site just northwest of Midway Island in the Pacific.

Apollo 4 paved the way, just over a year later, for the launch of the Saturn V that carried the Apollo 8 crew to orbit the Moon (in December of 1968). In 1969, a Saturn V launched the crew of Apollo 11 to the surface of the Moon. The final Saturn V launched on May 14, 1973, and carried the first U.S. space station, Skylab, to orbit.




Christopher Paul has had a lifelong interest in spaceflight. He began writing about his interest in the Florida Tech Crimson. His primary areas of interest are in historical space systems and present and past planetary exploration missions. He lives in Kissimmee, Florida, and also enjoys cooking and photography. Paul saw his first Space Shuttle launch in 2005 when he moved to central Florida to attend classes at the Florida Institute of Technology, studying space science, and has closely followed the space program since. Paul is especially interested in the renewed effort to land crewed missions on the Moon and to establish a permanent human presence there. He has covered several launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral for space blogs before joining SpaceFlight Insider in mid-2017.

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