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Saturn V First Flight: The Apollo 4 Mission 1967 NASA Johnson Space Center
   Jeff Quitney
  Published: 2 years ago


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Apollo 4 was the first unmanned test of the Saturn V launch vehicle for Project Apollo. It was an "all up" test, all three stages S-IC, S-II, and S-IVB, were tested in the same flight. The mission was also known as SA-501, Apollo-Saturn 501, or AS-501. The J-2 engine of the S-IVB 3rd stage was shut down after the stage entered orbit, then restarted in flight to simulate trans-lunar injection. A Block I Command and Service Module (CSM) was carried, and the Command Module was accelerated to high speed to simulate re-entry from a lunar mission, and recovered.

NASA film JSC-457

Some music had to be deleted from this video due to a bogus copyright claim, but the narration is all intact.

Reupload of a previously uploaded film, in one piece instead of multiple parts, and with improved video & sound.

Apollo 4 pre-launch prep video:

Launch date November 9, 1967 12:00:01 UTC
Landing November 9, 1967 20:37:00 UTC North Pacific Ocean

Public domain film from the US National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

Apollo 4, (also known as Apollo-Saturn 501 and AS-501), was the first unmanned test flight of the Saturn V launch vehicle, which was used by the Apollo program to send the first men to the Moon. Apollo 4 flew the S-IC first stage and S-II second stage for the first time, and demonstrated the first in-flight restart of the S-IVB third stage. The launch, at 7am EST on November 9, 1967 from Launch Complex 39, was the first from the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida. The mission tested the complete Saturn V and Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM) stack in what is known in the aerospace industry as an "all-up test", meaning all stages were live and functional on the first flight. The mission was deemed a complete success by NASA.

This was the first flight of the Saturn V, and the first launch from Launch Complex 39, which was specifically built for the Saturn V. It would also be the first time that the S-IVB third stage would be restarted in Earth orbit, and the first time that the Apollo spacecraft would reenter the Earth's atmosphere at the speed of a lunar return trajectory...

The payload was the Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM), serial number 017. This was a Block I design meant for systems testing, not the Block II spacecraft designed for use with the Lunar Module (LM) on the actual Moon landings. However, several significant Block II modifications were made for certification, since no all-up Block II spacecraft would be flown before the first manned missions...

A dummy LM known as a Lunar Module Test Article, LTA-10R was carried as ballast to simulate the loadings of the LM on the launch vehicle....

Launch occurred at 1200 UTC on November 9. Eight seconds before liftoff, the five F-1 engines ignited, sending tremendous amounts of noise across Kennedy Space Center. To protect from a possible explosion, the launch pads at LC-39 were located more than three miles from the Vehicle Assembly Building; still, the sound pressure was much stronger than expected and buffeted the VAB, Launch Control Center and press buildings. NASA later built a sound suppression system that pumped thousands of gallons of water onto the flame trench under the pad.

The launch placed the S-IVB and CSM into a nearly circular 100-nautical-mile (190 km) orbit, a nominal parking orbit that would be used on the actual lunar missions. After two orbits, the S-IVB reignited for the first time, putting the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit with an apogee of 9,297 nautical miles (17,218 km) and a perigee that would deliberately take it 45.7 nautical miles (84.6 km) below the Earth's surface; this would ensure both a high-speed reentry of the Command Module, and atmospheric reentry and destruction of the S-IVB. The CSM then separated from the S-IVB and fired its Service Module engine to raise the apogee to 9,769 nautical miles (18,092 km) and a perigee of −40 nautical miles (−74 km). After passing apogee, the Service Module engine fired again for 281 seconds to increase re-entry speed to 36,545 feet per second (11,139 m/s), at an altitude of 400,000 feet (120 km) and a flight path angle of -6.93 degrees, simulating a return from the Moon.

The CM landed approximately 8.6 nautical miles (16 km) from the target landing site northwest of Midway Island in the North Pacific Ocean. Its descent was visible from the deck of the USS Bennington, the prime recovery ship.
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Comments Directly on YouTube

3 days ago
Used a lot of German engineering help, nevertheless was a demonstrations of US power as something similar to a Saturn V is still not seen on earth... Energia came close...

2 months ago
German and American rocket, but thanks to the Germans they could flight to the moon.

2 months ago
A snapshot of a time when the best people got the job. I see no evidence of affirmative-action hiring or quotas in the control room.

2 months ago

2 months ago
I saw this from the back yard of our house when my father was stationed at Patrick Air Force Base. I watched the last of the Gemini flights, but this was huge! We lived in what was known as Wherry Housing with the Banana River right behind our house, so we were afforded a clear view of the launch.

2 months ago
Good times..good times proud to be an American. Now we can't launch a person into space from our own soil. Thanks BLOBAMA. ..

3 months ago
I actually missed the school bus on the day of this launch. I just had to see it.

4 months ago
Almost 50 years since it's first launch. And even after an upcoming launch of a SpaceX FH, the Saturn V being 50 percent more powerful, will remain America's most powerful booster ever.

6 months ago
America could afford to do things like this because corporations and the rich were required to pay taxes. Today America is fast becoming a banana republic where corporations and the rich pay little or no taxes.

6 months ago
Back when America could do great things....

7 months ago
You'll notice when they showed the engines ignite and then rocket lifting off, the arms with the "clam shell" covers swinging back. These are "tail service masts" and in practice the clam shell covers did not work well. They were meant to protect the "utility plate" from damage.

After Apollo 4 all the tailor service masts on the launcher deck were retrofitted with a lattice tower which had an enclosure at the top, the arm would swing up, trip a switch as it entered the enclosure and a cover would slide close over the front of the mast end.

1 year ago

2 years ago
Very interesting video !

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