“The S-II stage was a nightmare the minute it was conceived, and it only got worse from there. During the course of its creation, it would grind up people and careers the way the transcontinental railway devoured laborers. Though the methods and materials used to build the S-II were reasonably well known, nobody had ever tried to apply them on such a titanic scale. Originally, it was to be somewhere around 8 stores tall with a diameter of 22 feet, but the width ballooned from there to 27 feet before the contract was even signed, then to 30, and finally to 33 feet. And all the while as the size of thing increased, NASA was trimming the allowable weight.” Harrison Storms of NAA.
The structural efficiency of the S-II stage, in terms of the weight and pressures taken by its extra-thin walls, was comparable only to the capacity of one of nature’s most refined examples of structural efficiency, the egg.
Apollo Saturn 201 employed the Saturn IB launch vehicle, which was the up-rated version of the Saturn I rocket flown in ten earlier Saturn-Apollo missions. It featured an upgrade of the first stage engines to increase thrust from 1,500,000 lb-ft of thrust to 1,600,000 lb-ft. The second stage was the S-IVB. This stage used a new liquid hydrogen-burning J-2 engine which would also be used on the S-II second stage of the Saturn V lunar launch vehicle…
The Pegasus satellite was named for the winged horse of Greek mythology. Like its namesake, the Pegasus was notable for its “wings”, a pair of 29 meter long, 4.3 meter wide arrays of 104 panels fitted with sensors to detect punctures by micrometeoroids at high altitudes. In its stored position with panels folded inside the Apollo service module, the Pegasus was 5.3-meters high, 2.1 meters wide, and 28-cm deep.
A few seconds after liftoff, a fin-vane at the base of the booster stuck and started the 13-meter-tall spacecraft-booster combination spinning like a bullet. Twenty-six seconds into the flight the vehicle started coming apart. The abort-sensing system signaled the launch escape tower rocket to fire and pull the spacecraft away…
Saturn 1, SA-6 was the first orbital launch of an Apollo Spacecraft by a Saturn Launch Vehicle and also the first flight utilizing an active ST-124 Stabilized Platform.
Max Faget’s position was that considering the difficulty of the job, if each mission was successful half the time, it would be well worth the effort. But Gilruth thought that was too low. He want a 90% mission success ratio and a 99% ratio for Astronaut safety. Walt Williams who was currently running the Mercury program believed that astronaut safety needed to be limited to only 1 failure in a million which was 99.9999%.
…From the information they gathered on the existing technical problems, Disher and Tischler concluded that prospects were only one in ten that Apollo would land on the moon before the end of the decade….