E. Ray Smyth and The Saturn V Moon Rocket

I was still a Driller in the Oil Fields of Texas when President Kennedy made his now famous speech on May 25, 1961 setting our nation's goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.

Little did I know what was in store for me or the president over the next five years.

I most certainly would never have thought my family and I would live in 5 different states in that short period of time and then be where we were 5 years later.

I wrote in my KSC Memoirs the following:..................................

1966 gave us a glimpse of things to come when the very first Saturn V was rolled out of the VAB and to Launch Pad 39A on May 25, 1966 which was exactly 5 years to the day after President Kennedy made his speech.

The 500F was 1st in the Saturn V series and the F stood for Facility, meaning this was an instrumentated non flight vehicle used to check out the Ground Support Equipment (Facilities) and was loaded with propellant on Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center to verify capability of launch procedures, equipment and personnel.

The 500F had no engines but, rather weights to simulate the weight of the engines. Otherwise it was pretty much the real thing and was instrumented to simulate all the actual facility interfaces and capable of doing a propellant loading of the missile tanks.

Our Mobile Gas Crew was in on all the excitement of the first Saturn V rollout as we were required to follow right behind the crawler with a Gn2 gas trailer as the 500F made it's way to the pad.

Saying it was a Gas Trailer is a mis normer. It was actually a unit we called a Double Bomb Bottle because it was 2 surplus ICBM Gas Vessels that had been mounted in a surplus M1 Search Light Trailer.

In other words it was a jury rigged affair which in the beginning days was all we had to operate with at KSC. But, never let it said it did not fulfill the job because it did and we supplied many a customer with one of our Bomb Bottle Gas Trailers in the early days.

During transit, to and from the pad, the rocket was pressurized and purges were maintained. Normally the storage within all the piping on the Mobile Launcher was sufficient to make the trip. Our Gas trailer was there in the event it wasn't.

However, at this point and time the CCF-39 Facilities was not activated and the Mobile Gas Section with our Gas Trailer and portable Rechargers played the roll of a CCF and provided all the Gn2 gas needed on the pad for the 500F testing.

Some added excitement occurred with the vehicle when Hurricane Alma headed for Florida in June with the 500F still on the pad.

A meeting was held to discuss what to do with the vehicle and KSC Director, Dr. Kurt Debus said, "Boys the 500F is a training vehicle and this is a good time to train the troops so put her back in the barn"

So, we followed the 500F back to the VAB and I was there with the rain generated by the hurricane swirling all around as we made the 8 hour trip back to the VAB which was completed around 11:30 PM that night.

I could have been home. I was there simply because, it was an exciting time in my life, but, mainly I was there because that's just me as my job was also my hobby.

The 500F was returned to the pad in July and the test continued.

To View Photographs of AS-500F Rollout and Move to the Launch Pad Click:..  HERE
Note:.. Photographs, #60 and 61 indicate the Bendix Mobile Gas Crew was on the      
job by the presences of a Cosmodyne Recharger shown in the photos.
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Copyright © 2009 by E. Ray Smyth