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It's Retro Saturday, so we'll turn you over to Dr. Kurt Debus who will tell you all about Launch Complex 34 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Saturn: Launch Complex 34 was released in 1962. If you listen closely, Debus uses terms that were reflective of the time.
The Saturn 1 is referred to as the “C-1”. Ever wonder why the Moon rocket was called “Saturn 5” and what happened to all the other rockets inbetween?
“C-1” is your clue.
The Saturn program began in the late 1950s, when Debus and Dr. Wernher von Braun were still with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency. Envisioned as a heavy-lift vehicle, Saturn struggled to find a bureaucratic home as the Army exited the rocket launching business.
A 1959 government commission formally titled the Saturn Vehicle Evaluation Committee, but known informally as the Silverstein Committee after chair Abe Silverstein, looked at various directions the newly-born National Aeronautics and Space Administration could take with the Saturn program. Eight different configurations were studied:
- A-1 - Saturn lower stage, Titan second stage, and Centaur third stage (von Braun's original concept)
- A-2 - Saturn lower stage, proposed clustered Jupiter second stage, and Centaur third stage
- B-1 - Saturn lower stage, proposed clustered Titan second stage, proposed S-IV third stage and Centaur fourth stage
- C-1 - Saturn lower stage, proposed S-IV second stage
- C-2 - Saturn lower stage, proposed S-II second stage, proposed S-IV third stage
- C-3, C-4, and C-5 - all based on different variations of a new lower stage using F-1 engines, variations of proposed S-II second stages, and proposed S-IV third stages.
The “A” relied heavily on existing technology, while at the other end of the scale the “C” group relied on liquid hydrogen as a fuel and multiple stages.
The C-1 was selected as the first launch vehicle for the Saturn program. After President John F. Kennedy proposed the Moon program on May 25, 1961, the C-5 was chosen as it was the most potentially powerful vehicle in the group.
The “C” was eventually dropped. This explains why there were no Saturns 2 through 4.
In the film, you'll hear Dr. Debus refer to NASA as “the N-A-S-A” or “the NAY-suh.” NASA's predecessor was the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. That acronym was commonly pronounced “N-A-C-A,” which explains why Debus referred to NASA as “N-A-S-A.” But pronouncing NASA as a word seems to have been coming into vogue, which is why he switched between both versions.