Saturn I SA-3

SA-3 was the third test flight of the first stage of a Saturn I with dummies of the second and third stage.


Due to the size and power of the Saturn rocket family NASA decided to conduct a test flight for each part of the rocket. During this flight, only the first stage was active. The second step and the third, a Jupiter nose cone was filled with water to simulate the starting weight. These were taken during the second flight of the project, High Water detonated. For the first time, the first stage was fully fueled. In addition, the brake and the first fired rockets which serve to separate the individual steps.


The missile was delivered on September 19, 1962 by sea and then mounted.

History of the flight

After a ten-hour countdown, with two interruptions, raised from the rocket at 17:45:02 UTC. The flight went as planned. The engines burned four minutes 53 seconds, and brought the rocket to an altitude of 169.9 km, where the first-stage braking rockets were fired without separating them. Thereafter, the missile was detonated, thereby an artificial cloud formed. However, errors in the telemetry of this test led to unsatisfactory results. The flight showed that the missile can fly with full refueling and operate the braking rockets.

The main focus of the next flight was thus on the aerodynamic characteristics of the second stage, as well as the behavior of the on-board computer with an engine failure.