Assembly, test, and launch facilities for the Saturn V consist of a combination of facilities which existed before the onset of the program as well as many specifically created for its execution.

Included in these facilities are installations set up by the National Aeronautics and Space Administra­tion to meet the greatly increased size and com­plexity of the Saturn program.

The Marshall Space Flight Center includes installa­tions at Huntsville, Ala., where vehicle develop­ment is the prime responsibility; Michaud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, La., where the first stage is fabricated and assembled; and Mississippi Test Facility. Bay St. Louis, Miss., which is responsible for test operations. Launch facilities are located at the NASA Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Because of the giant size of Saturn launch vehicles and the difficulties in transporting them, fabrica­tion and test facilities were located within easy water shipment to the launch site.

At all of these NASA installations are located em­ployes of the companies which are the prime con­tractors for building the various stages and com­ponents of the Saturn V. Other facilities, including the home bases of the major contractors and sub­contractors, are located across the nation.


The Boeing Company manufactures the Saturn V first stage at the 900-acre NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The facility has about 2,000,000 square feet of manufacturing floor space and about 730,000 square feet of office space. About 60 per cent of the manufacturing area is occupied by Boeing.



Michoud – The Michoud Assembly Facility is the fabrication site of the first stage booster. Dominating the skyline is the Vertical Assembly Building.

The plant is arranged for logical and efficient flow of materials from the loading dock through to final assembly. Paralleling the material flow are the rework and modification area and the test and laboratory areas. There are 50,000 square feet of tooling area in the plant.



Stage Test—Before leaving Michoud, the completed booster undergoes a simulated firing during which all systems function in the Stage Test Building.


Barge Slip—First stages are loaded onto barges at Michoud and travel by waterways from New Orleans to Huntsville, Mississippi Test Facility, and Kennedy Space Center.

The environmentally controlled portion of the minor

assembly area contains facilities for heat treat­ment, chemical cleaning, conversion coating, and welding of pre-formed metal sections received at the loading dock. Final assembly of the propellant tanks and the joining of the major components into the complete stage occur in the Vertical Assembly Building (VABI.

The VAB is a single-story structure rising the equivalent of 18 stories. A 180-ton overhead crane is used to stack the five large cylindrical segments of the first stage into a vertical assembly position. A $50 million program included the construction of three buildings—the VAB, the Stage Test Building,


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Checkout of the stage’s electrical and mechanical systems is performed in the four giant test cells of the Stage Test Building. Each of the test cells-is 83 by 191 feet with 51 feet of clear height. Each has

separate test and checkout equipment.

Stages leave and enter Miehoud by waterways

connecting to the Mississippi River or the Gulf of Mexico.



Unique Vessels—Four of six special barges used to carry Saturn rocket stages are shown moored side-by-side at the Miehoud Assembly Facility. From left are the Little Lake, the Promise, the Poseidon, and the Palaemon.


The second stage of the Saturn V is manufactured and tested in facilities located from one end of the nation to the other.

The main fabrication and testing facilities are lo­cated in Seal Beach, Calif., about 15 miles south of Downey, which is the headquarters of SD opera­tions. SD subcontracts important elements of work to other North American facilities in Los Angeles and Tulsa and McAlester, Okla. The complex of buildings at Seal Beach, all built especially for the second stage, will be complemented by mid-1967 with three North American Aviation-owned build­ings which will house all the second stage admin­istrative, engineering, and support personnel who currently are located at Downey.

The Seal Beach facility includes a bulkhead fabri­cation building, 125-foot-high vertical assembly building, 116-foot-tall vertical checkout building, pneumatic test and packaging building, and a num­ber of other structures.

The bulkhead fabrication building is a large, highly specialized structure designed solely for the con­struction and assembly of the second stage’s three bulkheads. Among other tooling it contains an auto­clave about 40 feet in diameter with a 40-foot dome for curing the large stage bulkheads.

Over-all View—North American Sea! Beach facilities include in-process storage building (left); bulkhead fabrication building (center); vertical assembly building (far right); pneumatic test and packaging building (right center); and structural test tower (right front).



Night firing of Test Second Stage at Santa Susana



Space Truck Readied—The five engines of the Saturn V second stage dwarf technicians preparing the “battleship" vehicle for hot firing at North American’s Santa Susana static test lab.





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like conditions by being placed inside a 39-foot diameter vacuum chamber for extended periods of time. The chamber is capable of simulating the vacuum at an altitude of 500 miles above the earth. Structural tests on major vehicle structures such as the propellant tank, skirt sections, and interstage are conducted in the Structural Test Laboratory at the Space Systems Center.

Two vertical checkout towers at the Space Systems Center provide for the final factory tests on finished third stages, prior to shipment from the plant for test firing. The vertical checkout laboratory is equipped with two complete sets of automatic check­out equipment.

Actual ground test firings of the stages are accom­plished at the Douglas Sacramento Test Center, where each stage is delivered following the comple­tion of assembly and checkout at the Huntington Beach plant.

Primary Saturn facilities at Sacramento include a pair of 150-foot-high steel and concrete test stands where the stages are put through the final vehicle acceptance test—a full-duration, full-power static firing, simulating actual launch operations.



Static Test Firing of Third Stage at Sacramento

The Super Guppy, the world’s largest airplane, is the primary means of transporting the third stage from the Douglas Huntington Beach plant to the Sacramento Test Center, and from Sacramento to KSC. Developed by Aero Spacelines, Inc., for trans­port of large space hardware, the plane has an inside diameter of 25 feet and a total length of 141 feet. Tail height is 46 feet—almost five stories above the ground. Cubic displacement of the fuse­lage is 49,790 cubic feet, approximately five times
that of most present jet transports. The airplane is powered by four turbo-prop engines, producing a total of 28,000 horsepower.


Super Guppy


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