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Apollo 6: The Saturn V That Almost Failed

4 Apr 2018, 12:44 UTC
Apollo 6: The Saturn V That Almost Failed
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Space enthusiasts fondly remember the Saturn V rocket which sent nine Apollo crews to the Moon including a dozen astronauts who actually landed on the lunar surface between July 1969 and December 1972. Retired after thirteen flights when it launched NASA’s Skylab space station into Earth orbit on May 14, 1973, it is frequently claimed that the Saturn V had a perfect flight record – an unequaled achievement for what was the largest launch vehicle of its day (see “The Largest Launch Vehicles Through History”). While it is certainly true that no Saturn V suffered a catastrophic failure which resulted in the total loss of a mission, NASA’s famous Moon rocket did experience its share of problems.
The final launch of the Saturn V on May 14, 1973 placed the Skylab space station into orbit. (NASA)
By far the most problem-filled flight of the Saturn V was that of Apollo 6 also known as “AS-502” in planning documents. This second unmanned launch of the Saturn V was meant to complete the flight testing of this new rocket needed to certify it for the upcoming crewed Apollo lunar missions. After the very successful initial test flight of Apollo 4 launched on ...

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