Moon landing anniversary: Apollo 11 launch video shows immense power of Saturn V rocket

That the rocket could lift off at all was a miracle of engineering and ingenuity

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Tuesday 16 July 2019 17:24
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Apollo 11 spaceship takes off for moon mission on 20 July 1969

It is probably the most fearsome machine ever built by humanity.

The Saturn V is the most powerful rocket ever made, as well as the largest and tallest. And it carried the biggest ever payload into space: the Apollo spacecraft that would eventually carry humanity to the Moon for the first ever time.

Video from the launch shows the fearsome power of that rocket. And it demonstrates just how much was required to send those three astronauts on that pioneering mission, eventually helping take people to the surface of the Moon and uniting the world in wonder.

The launch of the rocket took place exactly 50 years ago today, on 16 July 1969. Liftoff happened at 9.32 local time from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Soon after that launch, the rocket carried its crew to space, dropping off when it had burnt out to allow their capsule to carry them the rest of the way. There would be 15 of the rockets made, but the one that helped with the first Moon landing falling away into space, lost somewhere away from Earth.

It would take days for the astronauts to arrive at the Moon: they wouldn't land until four days later on 20 July. Soon after that Neil Armstrong climbed out and made history as the first person ever to step foot on the Moon.

But the missions fate was partly set when that Saturn V rocket took off and carried the astronauts away from Earth and to the lunar orbit. The very fact that it didn't experience any problems as it did so was a miracle of engineering and ingenuity, and would set the way for the successes that followed.

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