Where would we be without rockets? Not in space, that’s for sure. Every rocket has an origin story. For the famous Saturn V - that superhero spacecraft was actually upgraded from an earlier design, the Saturn 1B. 1B (for short) launched for the first time on this day in 1966, so I’m gonna chit-chat a bit about it!
For the Apollo Applications Program (AAP), NASA devised 1B as an enhanced version of a previous rocket model (aptly named 1), which then eventually evolved into V. 1B was primarily used for service between 1973 and 1975, and in that time, the rocket executed three crewed Skylab flights and one Apollo-Soyuz Test Project flight.
Some believe that 1B could have been as notorious as V if the Apollo program had taken off in the 60’s; however, it didn’t, and so 1B did its rocket thang for a stint and then (like all things it seems) was replaced by something younger and shinier. One gentleman did a bang up job going into detail about 1B, so since I’m only covering the fun basics, I’ll leave this here.
The strapping 1B towered at 363 feet/111 meters tall – which is the size of a building with 36 stories for reference. In fact, it was 60 feet/18 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York. When it was fully loaded and ready for liftoff, 1B weighed in at 6.2 million pounds/2.8 million kilograms, or the approximate weight of 400 lovable Dumbos.
There are only three known places where Saturn 1B rockets (in pieces and parts, but still) are on display: Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL; the Ardmore Alabama Welcome Center; and U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL (and hey, I just fulfilled a big, beautiful order for this awesome organization this month! Go check them out and find our jewelry in their gift shop!) Fun Fact: At the time of production, 1B cost around $55,000,00 USD, but today, you’d be looking at a figure closer to $335,000,000.
Thanks 1B for being a stalwart stepping stone towards space greatness! What did Iron Man say? Heroes aren’t born. They’re built. Or something like that.