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Juno V: The Birth of the Saturn Rocket Family

6 Oct 2018, 13:34 UTC
Juno V: The Birth of the Saturn Rocket Family
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The launching of the first Sputnik satellites in 1957 and 1958, which had masses as great as 1.3 metric tons, clearly demonstrated that the Soviet Union had a lead over the West in rocket technology (see “Sputnik 3: The First Orbiting Geophysical Laboratory“). Within a couple of years, Soviet design bureaus started flying improved rockets that could launch more than 4.5 metric tons into orbit. The fact that contemporary American rockets could loft only a small fraction of this mass was a major concern not only to engineers and scientists in the West that hoped to conquer the space frontier but to the political leaders that watched American technological preeminence fade with each Soviet space achievement.

Early Studies
Even with the early lead in lift capability the Soviet Union enjoyed (see “The Largest Launch Vehicles Through History”), by the beginning of the Space Age American rocket engineers already had plans in motion for large boosters that would dwarf current Soviet launch vehicles. During the late 1940s and 1950s the Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation (which today is part of Aerojet Rocketdyne) had been developing large rocket engines for use in America’s first generation of long range missiles. ...

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