February 21, 2011 - Eight Engines Are Better Than One

Eight Engines Are Better Than One In the late 1950s, Wernher von Braun and other rocket scientists recognized the need for a heavy-lift launch vehicle capable of sending a large payload to the Moon. They recommended building a giant rocket that combined a cluster of powerful rocket engines instead of a single massive one. The project became known as Saturn, and one of the two final variants of the Saturn rocket had its first test flight forty-five years ago this week. The Saturn IB, younger brother to the Saturn V Moon rocket, featured a first-stage cluster of eight H-1 engines, producing a total thrust of 1.6 million pounds. The AS-201 mission launched an Apollo command module on its first suborbital test flight. Later Saturn IBs tested other Apollo hardware and sent astronauts to the Skylab space station.

Image credit: NASA / scan by Kipp Teague

Weekly Calendar

February 21-27, 2011

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 21

Presidents' Day

Saturn 8° north of Moon

1931: Germany's first liquid-fuel rocket launched by VfR flies 10 feet

Moon phase Tuesday 22

1966: Cosmos 110 launched, sets record for dogs in space (22 days)
1978: First Navstar GPS satellite launched
1996: STS-75 Columbia launched

Moon phase Wednesday 23

1987: Supernova 1987a explodes
1990: Pioneer 11 leaves solar system
1997: Flash fire in Mir Kvant module

Moon phase Thursday 24

Last Quarter Moon 6:26 PM ET

1968: Discovery of first pulsar announced
1969: Mariner 6 launched
2007Rosetta spacecraft flies by Mars
2011: STS-133 Discovery launched

Moon phase Friday 25

Mercury in superior conjunction

Moon phase Saturday 26

1842: Camille Flammarion born
1966: First Saturn 1B rocket launched

Moon phase Sunday 27

Vesta 0.9° north of Moon

1897: Bernard Lyot born
1970: HL-10 sets lifting body altitude record of 90,300 feet


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