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Unmanned Saturn Missions

Unmanned Apollo-Saturn Missions

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Unmanned Mission
SA-1 (1)

Pad 34 (1)
Saturn-1 (1)

Mission Objective

Research and Development of the S-1 launch vehicle. Test of the S-1 stage propulsion and verify the structure and aerodynamics of the vehicle.  
Result: Successful


October 27, 1961 10:06 a.m.


Altitude: 137km 
Inclination: xxx degrees 
Orbits: (suborbital) 
Duration: Days, hours, min, seconds 
Distance: 344km downrange


October 27, 1961. Impact in the Atlantic ocean 344km downrange

Mission Highlights

Fully fueled and ready to go, the Saturn weighed 925,000 lbs. The first stage was loaded with 600,000 lbs of propellant (kerosene fuel and liquid oxygen). Prelaunch preparation began at 7:00am on 10/26/61. Mechanical Office tasks included inspection of the high pressure gas panel, cable masts, and fuel masts; ordnance installation; and preparation of the  





-Dummy second stage (S-4), weighing 25,000 lbs,  
ballasted with 90,000 lbs 
(11,000 gallons) water. 
-Dummy third stage (S-5) weighing 3,000  lbs,  
ballasted with 100,000 lbs (12,000 gallons) water.


06/05/61 - LC-34 dedication

08/15/61 - S-1 Stage ondock at KSC

08/15/61 - S-IV (dummy) Stage ondock at KSC

08/15/61 - S-IU ondock at KSC 

09/06/61 - Full tank pressurization test

10/27/61 - Launch

holddown arms. The propellant team filled the launch vehicle's tanks to the 10% level, using a slow, manual procedure of approximately 750 liters per minute to check for leaks. A leak in the fuel mast vacuum breaker was detected and easily repaired and at 2:30 p.m. the launch team cleared the pad for the automatic  "fast fill" operation.  Fuel flowed into the launch vehicle at 7570 liters per minute reaching the 97% level in about 35min. The propellants team then reverted to the "slow fill" procedure until the vehicle was topped off at 103% of the required RP-1. The ten hour countdown began at 11:00 p.m. as LC-34 switched to the Cape's emergency generating plant. Loading of the liquid oxygen started after 3:00 a.m. (T-350). The Saturn LOX tanks were 10% filled to check for leaks in the vehicle or in the 229 meter transfer line, as well as precool the line for the fast flow of super-cold LOX. 

Two hours from the 9:00 a.m. scheduled liftoff, an unfavorable weather report prompted launch officials to call a hold. The count resumed at 7:34 a.m. and the launch team rolled the service structure back to its parking area. The propellants team configured the LOX facility for fast fill (9500 liters per min) at T-100 and the blockhouse doors were swung shut at T-65 min. Launch officials, concerned that a patch of clouds over the Cape might obscure tracking cameras, called a second hold at 9:14 a.m.. Within half an hour, the countdown resumed. 

Launch came when the ground launch sequencer ordered the firing of a solid propellant charge. The gases from the ignition accelerated a turbine that in turn drove fuel and LOX pumps. Hydraulic valves opened, allowing RP-1 and LOX into the combustion chambers, along with a hypergolic fluid that ignited the mixture. The engines fired in pairs, developing full thrust in 1.4 seconds. A final rough combustion check was followed by ejection of LOX and RP-1 fill masts from the booster base. The four hold-down arms released the rocket 3.97 seconds after first ignition and SA-1 was airborne. 
[Moonport - A History of Launch Facilities and Operations. Charles D. Benson and William B. Faherty. NASA SP-4204 page 62].

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