A-101 (spacecraft)

A-101 (also known as SA -6) was the first test flight of a Saturn I rocket with a dummy of the Apollo spacecraft. The name of A-101 was chosen to emphasize the beginning of the Apollo tests.


After all the previous five test flights of the Saturn I rocket were satisfactory, it was now a matter of developing the necessary technologies to build powerful models Saturn IB and Saturn V can.

The tip of a Jupiter rocket previously used was first replaced by a dummy of the Apollo spacecraft.

Apollo dummy (BP -13)

The lifelike model (English Boilerplate called ) consisted of:

  • Rescue rocket with 4.64 m height.
  • Escape tower, a 3.05 m high support structure for the rescue rocket. Both together formed the Launch Escape System ( LES).
  • Command Module (CM ), a conical aluminum construction with a base diameter of 3.91 m and 3.4 m in height.
  • Service Module (SM ), an aluminum construction with a diameter of 3.91 m and 3.15 m height. It was mounted on the second stage by means of an adapter section and the tool unit.

This unit corresponded in dimensions, weight and center of gravity a functional, the Apollo manned spacecraft. It was equipped with instruments which represented the three telemetry systems available to 116 measurement data such as load, pressure and acceleration. Measured from the second stage was the construction of a mass of 16,900 kg and a height of 24.4 m.


The steps were delivered between 18 and 22 February to Kennedy Space Center and built on the Launch Complex 37B. There were some delays. Liquid oxygen damaged a cable cover during a test, the flight management system overheated as precipitation of a compressor of the air conditioning, and during the countdown studded oxygen vapor the window of an instrument unit, so that the theodolite, a normally required instrument was no longer visible. The engineers withdrawals the necessary data to allow the computers to the start.

History of the flight

The launch took place on May 28, 1964, 17:07:00 UTC. After 77 seconds, one of the eight first-stage H-1 engines turned by 24 seconds too early. However, the lack of thrust could be compensated by the remaining engines burned longer and 2.7 seconds, the autopilot corrected the resulting price deviation.

The first step was separated and the second fired. This was filmed by eight cameras, which were subsequently dropped and later salvaged. Ten seconds later the LES was blasted off as scheduled.

6 minutes, 24.5 seconds after launch, the engines were shut down. The second stage with the Apollo dummy reached orbit and sent four orbits long telemetry data until the batteries ran out. The actual trajectory almost reached the expected parameters. Only the self-rotation of the rocket was faster than desired due to the loss of fuel remains at 28 ° per second.

In its 54th orbit, the rocket crashed into the atmosphere and burned up on June 1, near the Canton islands over the Southern Pacific.

Impact on the Apollo program

The Saturn I worked mostly satisfactory and came with the Apollo spacecraft in terms of weight, structure and aerodynamics cope. The failure of one engine meant no delay for the subsequent mission.