Discover the Saturn V Rocket at the Kennedy Space Center

Saturn V rocket

The Saturn V rocket is a now-retired super heavy-lift launch vehicle that was built by NASA for the human exploration of the moon, which makes it a must-visit attraction at the Kennedy Space Center. The rocket was developed under the Apollo program and used to launch 13 Saturn V rockets from 1967 to 1973. Saturn V was also used to launch Skylab, the first American space station. Read on to know about the history of the Saturn V rocket, why it’s famous, where it is now, its missions and launches, and more.

What is the Saturn V?

What is Saturn V

Standing tall at a height of 363 feet and weighing 2.8 million kilograms, the Saturn V is 60 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty and was the largest rocket to have ever flown through space. It was built to send humans to explore the moon. It remains to be the only launch vehicle to take humans beyond low earth orbit and has been used for nine crewed flights to the moon. 

It was one of the three types of Saturn rockets built by NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center. The first Saturn V rocket to be launched with a crew was called Apollo 8. Several tests were run before Apollo 11 finally became the first mission to land astronauts on the moon in 1969 establishing America’s superiority in space.

Quick Facts

Official name: Saturn V

Function: It was used to send American astronauts to the Moon

Date of completion: 1967

Missions: Apollo 4 (1967), Apollo 6 (1968), Apollo 8 (1968), Apollo 9 (1969), Apollo 10 (1969), Apollo 11 (1969), Apollo 12 (1969), Apollo 13 (1970), Apollo 14 (1971), Apollo 15 (1971), Apollo 16 (1972), Apollo 17 (1972), and Skylab 1 (1973)

Size: The rocket was 363 feet tall and weighed about 2.8 million kilograms.

Owner: Saturn V was developed by NASA and designed under the direction of Wernher von Braun, the lead contractors of which were Boeing, North American Aviation, Douglas Aircraft Company, and IBM.

Location: Apollo/Saturn V Centre at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida

Where is the Saturn V Rocket?

The Saturn V rocket is located in the Apollo/Saturn V Centre within the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Why is the Saturn V Rocket Famous?

Why is the Saturn V Rocket Famous
  • Saturn V was the first rocket that was developed under the Apollo program to send humans to explore the moon.
  • It is the largest and the most powerful rocket to have ever flown into space successfully making it one of the greatest achievements of 20th-century engineering.
  • The success of the Saturn V rocket established American supremacy in space. The US continues to be the only country to have successfully landed its astronauts on the Moon.
  • The Saturn V rocket was also used to launch Skylab, the first American space station, into Earth’s orbit.
  • The attraction offers visitors the chance to watch history unfold all over again by giving them an understanding of what it was like to launch this heavy lift vehicle into space, land the astronauts on the Moon, and get them back to Earth safely.

History of the Saturn V Rocket

History of the Saturn V Rocket

A one-of-a-kind interactive exhibit, the Apollo/Saturn V Centre at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opened on December 17, 1996, as a tribute to the astronauts, crew, and the 400,000 people that helped in building the rocket. Located northwest of Launch Complex 39, the center was constructed to house a restored Saturn V rocket and other interactive exhibits related to the Apollo program.

A few exhibits include Kitty Hawk - the Apollo 14 command module, an unused Lunar module, an unused Apollo command and service module called Skylab Rescue, a slice of moon rock, a replica of the Lunar Roving Vehicle, space suits, lunar samples from different Apollo programs, and a large model of the Saturn V rocket. Experience historic moments at the two theatres inside the center - the Firing Room and the Lunar Theater.

Description of the Saturn V Rocket

Designed at the Marshall Space Flight Centre in Alabama, the 363-feet-tall and 2.8 million kilograms heavy Saturn V was primarily built using aluminum along with titanium, polyurethane, cork, and asbestos. It could carry a weight of 130 tons into the Earth’s orbit and about 50 tons to the Moon. The rockets used for the Apollo missions comprised three stages – S-IC, S-II, S-IVB – and an instrument unit.

Each stage would burn its engines until it ran out of fuel and then separate itself from the rocket causing the engines on the next stage to fire. The same process would repeat for the next two stages as the rocket made its way into space and the separated pieces fell into the ocean. The first stage used the most fuel and had the most powerful engines because it had to get the rocket off the ground and to an altitude of 42 miles while the second stage prepared to launch it into orbit. The third stage would place the spacecraft into the orbit of the Earth and push it towards the Moon. 

The instrument unit was used to measure the acceleration and vehicle attitude to calculate the velocity and position of Saturn V and rectify any deviations. However, the Saturn V rocket that was used to launch Skylab into space consisted of only two stages instead of three. The S-II stage was changed to a terminal one to launch Skylab and prevent the first stage from rupturing in orbit.

Saturn V Rocket | Missions & Launches

The Space Age was hardly a decade old when NASA decided to take a giant leap forward by sending American astronauts to explore the surface of the Moon. To achieve this great feat, they built a powerful heavy-lift launch vehicle named Saturn V and used it to launch 13 missions between 1967 and 1973.

The first Saturn V rocket to be launched into space in 1967 was called Apollo 4 and then came Apollo 6 in 1968. Over the course of the year, the astronauts, crew, and the 400,000 people involved in building the rocket did several test missions before finally launching Apollo 11 from Cape Canaveral in 1969, which landed astronauts on the Moon making the US the first and only country to have done so.

The Saturn V rockets also carried astronauts and landed them on the Moon during the Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 missions that were launched between 1969 and 1972. The Apollo 13 mission lifted the astronauts into space but couldn’t land them on the Moon due to a problem with the spacecraft. In 1973, Saturn V was used for the last time to launch Skylab, the US’ first space station, into Earth’s orbit.

All the launches blasted off from Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Can I See the Saturn V Rocket?

Can I See the Saturn V Rocket

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Saturn V Rocket

Q. What is Saturn V?

A. Saturn V was built by NASA under the Apollo program for the human exploration of the moon. It remains to be the largest and most powerful rocket to have ever flown successfully through space.

Q. Where is the Saturn V rocket?

A. The Saturn V rocket is located in the Apollo/Saturn V Center in the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex in Florida.

Q. What is the Saturn V rocket famous for?

A. The Saturn V rocket is famous for being the largest and most powerful rocket to have ever flown into space and landed American astronauts on the moon.

Q. Can I see the Saturn V rocket?

A. Yes, visitors can now see the iconic Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Q. Why should I visit the Saturn V rocket?

A. You should visit the Saturn V rocket to experience the event that changed the course of space history. Experience what it felt like to launch a rocket carrying astronauts into space, land them on the moon, and get them back safely to Earth.

Q. How do I book tickets to see the Saturn V rocket?

A. You can book tickets to the Kennedy Space Center and view the Saturn V rocket up close.

Q. How much does it cost to see the Saturn V rocket at the Kennedy Space Center?

A. Kennedy Space Center tickets and tours start from $80.25.

Q. Who built the Saturn V rocket?

A. The Saturn V rocket was built by NASA and designed under the direction of Wernher von Braun.

Q. Who owns Saturn V?

A. The Saturn V rocket is owned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The lead contractors of the rocket were Boeing, North American Aviation, Douglas Aircraft Company, and IBM.

Q. When was the Saturn V rocket complete and ready for launch?

A. The Saturn V rocket was complete and ready for launch in 1967.

Q. When was the Saturn V rocket first launched?

A. The Saturn V rocket was first launched in 1967.

Q. When was the Saturn V rocket’s last launch?

A. The last launch of the Saturn V rocket happened in 1973.

Q. How many missions/launches did the Saturn V rocket have?

A. The Saturn V rocket had 13 launches from the Kennedy Space Center between 1967 and 1973, including the launch of the Skylab Space Station into the Earth’s orbit.

Q. How big is the Saturn V rocket?

A. The Saturn V rocket is 111 meters tall and weighs 6.2 million pounds.

Q. Why is the Saturn V rocket important?

A. The Saturn V rocket is important because it is the largest and most powerful rocket that created history by sending astronauts to the moon. The launch and the eventual landing on the moon altered the course of space history.

Q. Is it worth seeing the Saturn V rocket?

A. Yes, the Saturn V rocket is worth visiting because you get to relive the excitement and experience of the Apollo programs through different engaging exhibits. You get to see the actual Saturn V rocket from up close and marvel at the sheer engineering genius at play.

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