• About
  • Advanced Search
  • Browse Proceedings
  • Access Policy
  • Sponsor
  • Contact
  • Apollo propulsion systems development and flight experience

    Paper ID



    • Charles H. King Jr.


    Apollo Program Office, NASA Headquarters






    The design, development, testing and integration experience; and the highly successful operational utilization of the complex array of Apollo/Saturn V propulsion system elements have clearly demonstrated the value of extensive pre-flight analysis, ground testing, and rigorous qualification test, reliability and quality assurance programs to ensure flight vehicle operational integrity with limited all-up vehicle flight testing. This background has also served the program well in providing a substantial data base from which flight anomalies could be rapidly assessed and resolved with minimum program impact. A brief account of Apollo flights to date and a description of the Apollo/Saturn V propulsion system thrusters is provided as introductory background, followed by a discussion of the design and development philosophy associated with launch vehicle and spacecraft engine selection and development testing. A presentation of propulsion system flight anomalies follows, with emphasis on the assessment process, the value of prior analyses and tests, and the approach to establishing satisfactory and timely fixes. The paper concludes by calling attention to the value of the exhaustive test, redesign, and retest cycles in the ground development program, the significance of test and operational interaction assessment, and provision for uncovering and correcting early flight propulsion problems while simultaneously achieving mission objectives.