Saturn I SA-5

SA -5 was the first test flight of a Saturn I, consisting of two operational steps and a third step of the dummy. It was also the first in the context of the Apollo program, which reached an orbital trajectory.


Due to the size and power of the Saturn rockets, NASA decided to conduct a test flight for each component of the rocket. The SA -5 mission should first carry instead of a dummy a fully functional second stage (S -IV). For the first time, the first stage 340,000 kg of fuel was fully fueled.

History of the flight

The first launch attempt took place on Start Pad 37B of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 27 January 1964. The countdown was initially planned. At 93 % level of the tank for the liquid oxygen control team discovered a leak, which was due to a cracked flange. Since a replacement was not immediately possible, the start date was postponed by two days.

The second launch attempt went smoothly and the rocket lifted off shortly before nightfall at 16:25 UTC from. The measuring devices of telemetry transferred 1,183 measurement data to the ground station, while all aircraft movements from the ground were observed with 13 cameras precisely to the first 1,000 meters. The trouble staging was recorded from eight cameras on the missile, which then automatically separated from her and unescorted on parachutes back to Earth and were later salvaged from the Atlantic.

After eight minutes, the second stage reached an orbit between 264 km ( perigee ) and 760 km ( apogee ). With just under 17 tonnes, it was the heaviest artificial satellite that time. She held until April 30, 1966 at the orbit.

The test proved that the Saturn I was fully airworthy and could be used for the test flights with a dummy of the Apollo spacecraft.