NASA testing vintage engine from Apollo 11 rocket

Young NASA engineers are testing a vintage rocket engine that was meant to blast the first U.S. lunar mission into Earth's orbit more than 40 years ago.

The agency conducted the last of 11 test firings Thursday on the heart of the engine, which was once part of the Apollo program's massive Saturn V (five) rocket.

The device shot out a huge plume of orange flame at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The thundering roar could be heard for miles.

Officials hope to use technology from the for the next generation of U.S. missions into space by the 2020s.

NASA engineer Nick Case is 27 years old, and he's impressed with the work done by engineers using slide rules and pencils in the 1960s.


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Jan 25, 2013
Brevity is the soul of wit: this article is definitely an example.

Jan 25, 2013
It is funny that current NASA engineers really don't know how the Saturn 5's engines work, so they have to experiment on them to see how they were actually engineered.

This is what happens when you allow a technical program to go dead for a while. You lose the lineage of engineers who can tell the younger ones how things were done.

Jan 25, 2013
You lose the lineage of engineers who can tell the younger ones how things were done.


The main problem is that NASA did not develop the Saturn V engines. Rocketdyne did.

NASA is a rubber stamp organization. They do not develop technology, they pay someone else to do it for them, and then adopt and adapt it.

Jan 25, 2013
NASA engineer Nick Case is 27 years old, and he's impressed with the work done by engineers using slide rules and pencils in the 1960s.


What really happened:

For seven years of development F-1 tests revealed serious combustion instability problems which would sometimes cause catastrophic failure.[3] Progress on this problem was initially slow, as the problem onset was intermittent and unpredictable.

Eventually engineers developed a technique of detonating small explosive charges (which they called "bombs") outside the combustion chamber through a tangential tube (RDX, C4 or black powder were used) while the engine was firing, which allowed them to determine exactly how the running chamber responded to variations in pressure and to determine how to nullify these oscillations.

The designers could then quickly experiment with different co-axial fuel-injector designs to obtain the one most resistant to instability.


In other words: a lot of trial and error.

Jan 25, 2013
Although in the case of the Saturn V's F-1 engines, it wasn't NASA who commisioned the engine. It was the US Air Force who put up a wanted add for a really big engine, and Rocketdyne went on to develop one to sell it to the USAF, but then the Air Force decided they don't need one after all and the project was almost scrapped.

That's where NASA came in, saw that they already had a very large engine and said "I'd like 50 of those".

Jan 25, 2013
In other words: a lot of trial and error.

There is a great series on the Apollo program. In the series, it details this "main" problem with the F1 engine, which was an oscillation that caused them to explode. The series is called "Moon Machines" www.imdb.com/title/tt1203167

Jan 26, 2013
Although in the case of the Saturn V's F-1 engines, it wasn't NASA who commisioned the engine. It was the US Air Force who put up a wanted add for a really big engine, and Rocketdyne went on to develop one to sell it to the USAF, but then the Air Force decided they don't need one after all and the project was almost scrapped.

That's where NASA came in, saw that they already had a very large engine and said "I'd like 50 of those".


In every instance above replace NASA with Von Braun and you will be closer to the truth.

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