First Saturn Suborbital Test Flight

Fifty years ago today — October 27, 1961 — Saturn-I launched from Cape Canaveral. This launch was, as the title stated, the first test flight of the Saturn family of rockets that were intended to propel the Apollo astronauts to the Moon.

(Saturn SA-1 launch. NASA image.)

Also known as SA-1, the upper stages of the Saturn-I were filled with water ballast. The vehicle reached 84.8 miles altitude and flew 214.7 miles downrange into the Atlantic Ocean, achieving its mission objective of “verifying the aerodynamical and structural design of the Saturn 1 booster.”

Oh, to have been a part of that program! But at least I have a small collection of Saturn-related relics I salvaged during my time at the Rocket Lab.

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