Saturn V: the rocket that put men on the Moon

Spaceflight expert Peter Bond investigates Apollo 11's giant Saturn V rocket, and how it was constructed.

21 February 1969. Engineers oversee the transport of Saturn V’s S-IC first booster stage in the transfer aisle of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: NASA

The Saturn V that put astronauts on the Moon flew a total of 13 times between 1967 and 1973 with a 100 per cent success record. Designed and developed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville under German rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, it was the most powerful rocket ever built.

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The Saturn V was a huge, three-stage leviathan, weighing more than 3,000 tonnes and towering 110m above the launch pad.

Inside were some 12 million working parts, which caused von Braun to say: “I find myself thinking of all those thousands of parts – all built by the lowest bidder – and I pray that everyone has done his homework.”

Mankind’s greatest adventure, the first mission to land on the Moon, began at Cape Kennedy, Florida, at 9.32am on 16 July 1969.

The ground shook as the giant Saturn V rocket slowly rose into the blue sky of a perfect summer’s day. It was only the fourth time that the booster had blasted off with a crew on board.

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Below, we take a look at some of the incredible images captured as Apollo 11’s Saturn V was pieced together.