Wernher von Braun developed the concept for the Saturn in 1957. The concept outlined a heavy booster for the United States Department of Defense capable of putting a 20,000 to 40,000 lbs (9,071 to 18,143 kg) into Earth orbit or 6,000 to 12,000 lbs (2721 to 5443 kg) into deep space. The concept was approved by ARPA (Advanced Projects Research Agency) in 1958 and given the designation of Juno V, a continuation of the Juno I and Juno II rockets derived from the Jupiter IRBM.
In the design, the first approach was to cluster rocket stages together. One design had eight Redstone missiles clustered around a Jupiter. Rocketdyne (manufacturer of the engine for the Jupiter) was asked to upgrade the S-3D engine used by Jupiter to increase thrust by 25%. The result was the H-1 engine. This engine would be used by both the Jupiter and the clustered Redstones.
It was about this time that Rocketdyne designed the F-1, a single engine capable of producing as much thrust as the Redstone-Jupiter cluster approach.
A name change was suggested by von Braun in 1959. Saturn (a step beyond Jupiter) was approved by ARPA. It was also decided that the military had no need for such a large booster and the project was turned over to NASA.
A government commission (Saturn Vehicle Evaluation Committee,
a.k.a. the Silverstein Committee) produced several recommendations for NASA.
Several different configurations were proposed:
A-1 - Saturn cluster lower stage, Titan second stage, and Centaur third stage
A-2 - Saturn cluster lower stage, Jupiter cluster second stage, and Centaur third stage
B-1 - Saturn cluster lower stage, Titan cluster second stage, proposed S-IV third stage, and Centaur fourth stage
C-1 - Saturn cluster lower stage, and proposed S-IV second stage
C-2 - Saturn cluster lower stage, proposed S-II second stage, and proposed S-IV third stage
C-3, C-4, and C-5 - variations of a new first stage using the F-1 engines, variations of the proposed S-II second stage, and a proposed S-IV third stage.
The Saturn C-1 eventually became the Saturn I and later refined to become the Saturn IB. The Saturn C-5 became the Saturn V.
The Saturn I was the first large clustered rocket for the United States. The S-I first stage had 8 H-1 engines producing 1.6 million (1,600,000) pounds of force (7.1 NM), with a burn time of approximately 150 seconds. Fuel used was RP-1 (thermally stable kerosene) and LOX (liquid oxygen). The S-IV second stage had 6 RL-10 engines producing 90,000 pounds of force (400 kN), with a burn time of approximately 482 seconds. The fuel used was LH2 (liquid hydrogen) and LOX. The Centaur third stage had 2 RL-10 engines producing 30,000 pounds of force (133 kN) and a burn time of approximately 430 seconds. The fuel used was LH2 and LOX.
A total of 10 Saturn I launches took place. The first four were test flights. The next three were Apollo boilerplate launches (29 January 1964, 28 May 1964 and 18 September 1964). The final three combined Apollo boilerplates and Pegasus Micrometeoroid Satellite launches (16 February 1965, 25 May 1965, and 30 July 1965).
The Saturn IB is an uprated version of the Saturn I. The S-IB first stage, like the S-I, had 8 H-1 engines producing 1.6 million (1,600,000) pounds of force (7.1 NM), with a burn time of approximately 150 seconds. The S-IVB had a single J-2 engine which could produce from 195,000-225,000 foot-pounds (870-1000 kN) of thrust. It had a burn time of approximately 475 seconds and used LH2 and LOX. This second stage was the same as the third stage in the later Saturn V.
A total of 9 Saturn IB launches took place. The first four were test flights, officially known as AS-201, AS-203, AS-202, and Apollo 5. The next five launches were manned missions, Apollo 7, Skylab 2, Skylab 3, Skylab 4, and the ASTP. A tenth mission, the Skylab Rescue Mission, was planned but never needed to be flown.
The massive Saturn V stood 363 feet (110.6 m) tall. The S-IC first stage consisted of five Rocketdyne F-1 engines producing in excess of 7.6 million foot-pounds (34 MN) of thrust and had a burn time of 150 seconds. It used RP-1 rocket fuel and LOX. The S-II second stage had five J-2 engines burning LH2 and LOX. It produced a million foot-pounds (5 MN) of thrust for 360 seconds. The S-IVB third stage (used as the second stage of the Saturn IB) used the Rocketdyne J-2 engine, burning LH2 and LOX and producing 225,000 foot-pounds (1 MN) of thrust. It was restartable and had two burns, the first of 165 seconds and the second lasting 335 seconds.
There were a total of 13 launches of the Saturn V. The first two were test launches of Apollo 4 and Apollo 6. The next ten launches were the manned Apollo missions, Apollo 8 thru Apollo 17. The final launch of the Saturn V was the unmanned portion of Skylab (Skylab 1) on 14 May 1973.