S-IVB-206 which was used for the Skylab 2 flight
|Country of origin||USA|
|Height||17.81 m (58 ft, 5 in)|
|Diameter||6.60 m (21 ft, 8 in)|
|Gross mass||271,000 pounds (123,000 kg)|
|Propellant mass||241,300 lb (109,000 kg)|
|Empty mass||29,700 lb (13,500 kg)|
|Other||Restart failure (Apollo 6)|
|First flight||February 26, 1966|
|Last flight||July 15, 1975|
|S-IVB 200 series|
|Thrust||200,000 pounds-force (890,000 N)|
|Specific impulse||420 s (4.1 km/s)|
|Burn time||480 s|
|S-IVB 500 series|
|Thrust||232,250 pounds-force (1,033,100 N)|
|Specific impulse||421 s (4.13 km/s)|
|Burn time||500 s|
The S-IVB (sometimes S-4B, always pronounced "ess four bee") was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company and served as the third stage on the Saturn V and second stage on the Saturn IB. It had one J-2 engine. For lunar missions it was fired twice: first for the orbit insertion after second stage cutoff, and then for translunar injection (TLI).
The S-IVB evolved from the upper stage of the Saturn I rocket, the S-IV, and was the first stage of the Saturn V to be designed. The S-IV used a cluster of six engines but used the same fuels as the S-IVB — liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. It was also originally meant to be the fourth stage of a planned rocket called the C-4, hence the name S-IV.
Eleven companies submitted proposals for being the lead contractor on the stage by the deadline of 29 February 1960. NASA administrator T. Keith Glennan decided on 19 April that Douglas Aircraft Company would be awarded the contract. Convair had come a close second but Glennan did not want to monopolize the liquid hydrogen-fueled rocket market as Convair was already building the Centaur rocket stage.
In the end the Marshall Space Flight Center decided to use the C-5 rocket (later called the Saturn V), which had three stages and would be topped with an uprated S-IV called the S-IVB which instead of using a cluster of engines would have a single J-2 engine. Douglas was awarded the contract for the S-IVB because of the similarities between it and the S-IV. At the same time it was decided to create the C-IB rocket (Saturn IB) that would also use the S-IVB as its second stage and could be used for testing the Apollo spacecraft in Earth orbit.
Douglas built two distinct versions of the S-IVB, the 200 series and the 500 series. The 200 series was used by the Saturn IB and differed from the 500 in that it did not have a flared interstage and it had less helium pressurization on board since it did not have to be restarted. In the 500 series, the interstage needed to flare out to match the larger diameter of the S-IC and S-II stages of the Saturn V. The 200 series also had three solid rockets for separating the S-IVB stage from the S-IB stage during launch. On the 500 series this was reduced to two, and two small APS (auxiliary propulsion system) thruster modules were added as ullage motors for restarting the J-2 engine and to provide attitude control during coast phases of flight.
The S-IVB carried 73,280 liters (19,359 U.S. gallons) of LOX, massing 87,200 kg (192,243 lbs). It carried 252,750 liters (66,770 U.S. gallons) of LH2, massing 18,000 kg (39,683 lbs). Empty mass was 10,000 kg (23,000 lb)
Attitude control was provided by J-2 engine gimbaling during powered flight and by the two APS modules during coast. The APS modules each contained four thrusters providing 150 pounds of thrust (three for roll, pitch, and yaw, and one for ullage), and these were fueled by a hypergolic mixture of dinitrogen tetroxide and monomethyl hydrazine. They were used for three-axis control during coast phases, roll control during J-2 firings, and ullage for the second ignition of the J-2 engine.
A surplus S-IVB tank, serial number 212, was converted into the hull for the Skylab, the first American space station. Skylab was launched on a Saturn V on May 14, 1973, but it eventually reentered the atmosphere on July 11, 1979. A second S-IVB, serial number 515, was also converted into a backup Skylab, but this one never flew.
During the missions of Apollo 13, Apollo 14, Apollo 15, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17, the S-IVB stages were crashed into the Moon to perform seismic measurements used for characterizing the lunar interior.
Apollo 8 S-IVB, shortly after separation
|Serial number||Use||Launch date||Current location|
|S-IVB-S||"Battleship" static test stage||Never flew|
|S-IVB-F||Test stage for the facilities||Never flew|
|S-IVB-D||"Dynamic" test stage delivered to Marshall Space Flight Center in 1965||Never flew||U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama|
|S-IVB-T||Cancelled December 1964||Never flew|
|S-IVB-201||AS-201||February 26, 1966||Suborbital test; impacted Atlantic Ocean at 9.6621S, 10.0783E|
|S-IVB-202||AS-202||August 25, 1966||Suborbital test; impacted Atlantic Ocean|
|S-IVB-203||AS-203||July 5, 1966||Exploded in orbit during bulkhead test at end of mission; debris decayed|
|S-IVB-204||Apollo 5 (originally intended for Apollo 1)||January 22, 1968||Launched LM-1 into low Earth orbit for uncrewed test; decayed|
|S-IVB-205||Apollo 7||October 11, 1968||Decayed from low Earth orbit|
|S-IVB-206||Skylab 2||May 25, 1973||Decayed from low Earth orbit|
|S-IVB-207||Skylab 3||July 28, 1973||Decayed from low Earth orbit|
|S-IVB-208||Skylab 4||November 16, 1973||Decayed from low Earth orbit|
|S-IVB-209||Skylab rescue vehicle||Never flew||Kennedy Space Center|
|S-IVB-210||Apollo Soyuz Test Project||July 15, 1975||Decayed from low Earth orbit|
|S-IVB-211||Unused||Never flew||U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama|
|S-IVB-212||Converted to Skylab||May 14, 1973||Re-entered Earth's atmosphere on July 11, 1979|
|Serial number||Use||Launch date||Current location|
|S-IVB-501||Apollo 4||November 9, 1967||J-2 restart during first uncrewed Saturn V flight test placed S-IVB and spacecraft on earth-intersecting trajectory; impacted Pacific Ocean at 23.435N, 161.207E.|
|S-IVB-502||Apollo 6||April 4, 1968||Second uncrewed Saturn V flight test. J-2 restart failed due to damage from pogo oscillation of previous stages; decayed from low Earth orbit|
|S-IVB-503||Destroyed during testing||Never flew|
|S-IVB-503N||Apollo 8||December 21, 1968||Heliocentric orbit|
|S-IVB-504||Apollo 9||March 3, 1969||Heliocentric orbit|
|S-IVB-505||Apollo 10||May 18, 1969||Heliocentric orbit|
|S-IVB-506||Apollo 11||July 16, 1969||Heliocentric orbit|
|S-IVB-507||Apollo 12||November 14, 1969||Heliocentric orbit; Believed to have been discovered as an asteroid in 2002 and given the designation J002E3|
|S-IVB-508||Apollo 13||April 11, 1970||Impacted lunar surface April 14, 1970*|
|S-IVB-509||Apollo 14||January 31, 1971||Lunar surface*|
|S-IVB-510||Apollo 15||July 26, 1971||Lunar surface*|
|S-IVB-511||Apollo 16||April 16, 1972||Lunar surface*|
|S-IVB-512||Apollo 17||December 7, 1972||Lunar surface*|
|S-IVB-513||Apollo 18 (cancelled)||Never flew||Johnson Space Center|
|S-IVB-514||Apollo 19 (cancelled)||Never flew||Kennedy Space Center|
|S-IVB-515||Apollo 20 (cancelled), later converted to Skylab B||Never flew||National Air and Space Museum|
(* See List of artificial objects on the Moon for location.)
The second stage of the Ares I rocket and the proposed Earth Departure Stage (EDS) would have had some of the characteristics of the S-IVB stage, as both would have had an uprated J-2 engine, called the J-2X, with the latter performing the same functions as that of the Series 500 version of the stage (placing the payload into orbit, and later firing the spacecraft into trans-lunar space).
- Marshall Space Flight Center, Apollo Systems Description Volume II - Saturn Launch Vehicles, 1 February 1964
- "SP-4206 Stages to Saturn". NASA. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012.
- "Saturn S-IVB". apollosaturn. Archived from the original on 19 September 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- "Results of the First Saturn IB Launch Vehicle Test Flight AS-201", NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, 6 May 1966, MPR-SAT-FE-66-8. Page 43, Table 7-IV.
- AS-202 Press Kit Archived 2003-12-05 at the Wayback Machine
- Satellite catalog
- LROC page
- NASA New Reference: Saturn third stage