E. Ray Smyth and The Saturn V Moon Rocket

I consider myself quite fortunate to have participated in one of mankind's greatest adventure which was that of landing man on the moon for the first time.

A major step towards accomplishing that was the successful launch of the very first Saturn V Apollo Moon Rocket, AS-501 which occurred on November 9, 1967.

After working all night taking care of my responsibilities as a General Foreman in the High Pressure Gas Department for Bendix Launch Support, I was standing just outside the VAB at Kennedy Space Center as AS-501 lifted off at 7:00:01 AM. I was 33 years, 2 months, 11 days, 2 hours, 0 minutes and 1 second old.

As the rocket cleared the launch tower I was caught up in the same emotions as all the other KSC employees observing the launch and suddenly as the rocket cleared the launch tower there arose from the crowd of workers the shouting of "Go Go Go" and the higher the rocket rose the louder the shouting became.

Even with the roar of launch and the sheet metal on the side of the VAB rattling from the shock waves and the ground shaking you could still hear the employees shouting, "Go Go Go"

The shouting had barley died down when it was announced staging had occurred with a successful ignition of the 2nd stage and another loud roar came from one section of the crowd and it was very obvious that was the North America Employees responsible for the 2nd stage of the Saturn V.

The shouting represented the release of emotions penned up by many months of effort and long hours of work preparing the rocket for launch.

The all up system testing of the very first Saturn V placed a burden of stress on all the workers because you most certainly did not want the stage or system you worked on to be cause for a failure of the entire mission and this showed.

It was also about the time of 2nd stage ignition or what was 2-1/2 minutes after launch that the crowd standing all around the VAB started being pelted by small gravel rock and trash falling out of the sky.

The gravel and trash came from the launch pad flame trench that was lined with fire brick and had just been seared and cleaned out by the rocket blast for the first time and that was 3-1/2 miles from were the gravel was falling back to earth.

The pictures shown here are in sequence as the different stages of the AS-501 vehicle were assembled and then taken to Launch Pad A for check out and launch at Kennedy Space Center.

They show the arrival of the 1st stage and then the stacking of each of the 3 stages and then the Apollo Space Craft on top and the roll out and move to the launch pad and then launch and recover of the space craft.

Part of this first flight was to place the space craft into a very high orbit for a test of the heat shield on reentry and there is a picture of the earth taken from one of the space craft windows while it was in a high part of the orbit.

To View Photographs of AS-501 from Stacking and Rollout to Launch Click:..  HERE
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Copyright © 2009 by E. Ray Smyth