Saturn C-8


Saturn C-8
Saturn C-8 Launch Vehicle
FunctionManned lunar landing by direct ascent for Apollo program
Country of originUnited States
Height430 feet (131 m)
Diameter40 feet (12.2 m)
Width75 feet (22.9 m)
Mass10,516,620 pounds (4,770,260 kg)
Payload to LEO
Mass460,000 pounds (210,000 kg)
Payload to Translunar injection
Mass163,000 pounds (74,000 kg)
Associated rockets
Launch history
StatusStudy 1962
Launch sitesKennedy Space Center
First stage – S-IC-8
Length160 feet (48.8 m)
Diameter40 feet (12.2 m)
Width75 feet (22.9 m)
Empty mass399,900 pounds (181,400 kg)
Gross mass7,997,200 pounds (3,627,500 kg)
Engines8 F-1
Thrust13,921,000 pounds-force (61,925 kN)
Specific impulse265 seconds (2.60 km/s) sl
304 seconds (2.98 km/s) vac
Burn time157 seconds
PropellantRP-1 / LOX
Second stage – S-II-8
Length140 feet (42.7 m)
Diameter33 feet (10.1 m)
Empty mass139,940 pounds (63,480 kg)
Gross mass1,699,400 pounds (770,800 kg)
Engines8 J-2
Thrust1,858,100 pounds-force (8,265.26 kN)
Specific impulse425 seconds (4.17 km/s) vac
Burn time338 s
PropellantLH2 / LOX
Third stage – S-IVB
Length61 feet 8 inches (18.80 m)
Diameter21 feet 8 inches (6.60 m)
Empty mass29,345 pounds (13,311 kg)
Gross mass264,370 pounds (119,920 kg)
Engines1 Rocketdyne J-2
Thrust220,000 pounds-force (1,000 kN)
Specific impulse425 seconds (4.17 km/s) vac
Burn time165 + 335 seconds
(2 burns for TLI)
PropellantLH2 / LOX

The Saturn C-8 was the largest member of the Saturn series of rockets to be designed.[1] It was a potential alternative to the Nova rocket, should NASA have chosen a direct ascent method of lunar exploration for the Apollo program. The first stage was an increased diameter version of the S-IC. The second stage was an increased diameter S-II stage. Both of these stages had eight engines, as opposed to the standard five. The third stage was a stretched S-IVB stage, which retained its original diameter and engine.

NASA announced on September 7, 1961, that the government-owned Michoud Ordnance Plant near New Orleans, LA, would be the site for fabrication and assembly of the Saturn first stages as well as larger vehicles in the Saturn program. Finalists were two government-owned plants in St. Louis and New Orleans. The height of the factory roof at Michoud meant that an 8×F-1, 40 ft diameter launch vehicle (Saturn C-8, Nova class) could not be built; 4 or 5 engines (33 ft diameter) would have to be the maximum. This decision ended consideration of a Nova class launch vehicle for Direct Ascent to the Moon or as heavy-lift derivatives for Earth Orbit Rendezvous. Ultimately, the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous ("LOR") concept approved in 1962 rendered the C-8 obsolete, and the smaller Saturn C-5 was developed instead under the designation "Saturn V", as the LOR spacecraft was within its payload capacity.

The Saturn C-8 configuration was never taken further than the design process, as it was too large and costly.


  1. ^ Wade, Mark. "Saturn C-8". Astronautix. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  • Bilstein, Roger E, Stages to Saturn, US Government Printing Office, 1980. ISBN 0-16-048909-1. Excellent account of the evolution, design, and development of the Saturn launch vehicles.
  • Stuhlinger, Ernst, et al., Astronautical Engineering and Science: From Peenemuende to Planetary Space, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1964.
  • NASA, "Earth Orbital Rendezvous for an Early Manned Lunar Landing," pt. I, "Summary Report of Ad Hoc Task Group Study" [Heaton Report], August 1961.
  • David S. Akens, Saturn Illustrated Chronology: Saturn's First Eleven Years, April 1957 through April 1968, 5th ed., MHR-5 (Huntsville, AL : MSFC, 20 Jan. 1971).
  • Final Report, NASA-DOD Large Launch vehicle Planning Group, NASA-DOD LLVPG 105 [Golovin Committee], 3 vols., 1 Feb. 1962

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

External links

  • Diagram of C-8 with alternate 2-engine 3rd stage (not to the same proportions as the image above)