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The Apollo 10 S-IC stage is hoisted in the VAB for stacking
Fact sheet
Height 42 m (138 ft)
Diameter 10 m (33 ft)
Mass 2,280,000 kg
(5,030,000 lb)
Engines 5 F-1 engines
Thrust 33,400 kN
(7,500,000 lbf)
Burn time 150 s
Fuel RP-1 and liquid oxygen

The S-IC (pronounced "ess one see") was the first stage of the Saturn V rocket. The S-IC first stage was built by The Boeing Company. Like the first stages of most rockets, most of its mass of over two thousand metric tonnes at launch was propellant, in this case RP-1 rocket fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer. It was 42 meters tall and 10 meters in diameter, and provided 33,000 kN of thrust to get the rocket through the first 61 kilometers of ascent. Of the five F-1 engines, one was fixed in the center, while the four on the outer ring could be hydraulically turned to control the rocket.


The Boeing Company was awarded the contract to manufacture the S-IC on December 15, 1961. By this time the general design of the stage had been decided on by the engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The main place of manufacture was the Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. Wind tunnel testing took place in Seattle and the machining of the tools needed to build the stages at Wichita, Kansas.

MSFC built the first three test stages (S-IC-T, the S-IC-S, and the S-IC-F) and the first two flight models (S-IC-1 and -2). They were built using tools produced in Wichita.

It took roughly 7 to 9 months to build the tanks and 14 months to complete a stage. The first stage built by Boeing was S-IC-D, a test model.


The largest and heaviest portion of the S-IC was the thrust structure, weighing 21 metric tons. It was designed to support the thrust of the five engines and redistribute it evenly across the base of the rocket. There were four anchors which held down the rocket as it built thrust. These were among the largest aluminum forgings produced in the U.S. at the time, 4.3 meters long and 816 kilograms in weight. The four stabilising fins withstood a temperature of 1100 °C.

Above the thrust structure was the fuel tank, containing 770,000 liters of RP-1 fuel. The tank itself had a mass of 11 metric tons dry and could release 7300 liters per second. Nitrogen was bubbled through the tank before launch to keep the fuel mixed. During flight the fuel was pressurized using helium, that was stored in tanks in the liquid oxygen tank above.

Between the fuel and liquid oxygen tanks was the intertank.

The liquid oxygen tank held 1,204,000 liters of LOX. It raised special issues for the designer. The lines through which the LOX ran to the engine had to be straight and therefore had to pass through the fuel tank. This meant insulating these lines inside a tunnel to stop fuel freezing to the outside and also meant five extra holes in the top of the fuel tank.

Stages Built

Serial number Use Launch date Current location Notes
S-IC-T static test firing part of Saturn V display at Kennedy Space Center
S-IC-S structural load testing (had no engines) location unknown (last seen at MSFC)
S-IC-F facilities testing for checking out launch complex assembly buildings and launch equipment location unknown
S-IC-D ground test dynamics model U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama
S-IC-1 Apollo 4 November 9, 1967 Manufactured by MSFC
S-IC-2 Apollo 6 April 4, 1968 Manufactured by MSFC; carried TV and cameras on Boattail and Forward skirt
S-IC-3 Apollo 8 December 21, 1968 Manufactured by Boeing (as with all subsequent stages); weighed 560 kg less than previous allowing 36 kg more payload
S-IC-4 Apollo 9 March 3, 1969
S-IC-5 Apollo 10 May 18, 1969 Last flight for S-IC R&D Instrumentation
S-IC-6 Apollo 11 July 16, 1969
S-IC-7 Apollo 12 November 14, 1969
S-IC-8 Apollo 13 April 11, 1970
S-IC-9 Apollo 14 January 31, 1971
S-IC-10 Apollo 15 July 26, 1971
S-IC-11 Apollo 16 April 16, 1972
S-IC-12 Apollo 17 December 7, 1972
S-IC-13 Skylab 1 May 14, 1973 engine shutoff changed to 1-2-2 from 1-4 to lessen loads on Apollo Telescope Mount
S-IC-14 Unused Saturn V display at Johnson Space Center Scheduled for Apollo 18/19
S-IC-15 Unused Michoud Assembly Facility Designated but never used as a backup Skylab launch vehicle


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