ASVC, KSC, Florida

If the National Air and Space Museum is the Grandaddy, the Apollo Saturn V Center (ASVC) at KSC is The Great Uncle you never tire of visiting. When you round the corner, and first look upon the F-1 business end of the most impressive machine ever built, newly restored, and towering over you... it's as overwhelming as only the heroic era of spaceflight can be. The ASVC places some of the last surviving Apollo relics in a beautiful enclosure, well-preserved and comfortable for generations to enjoy.

As Saturn-Apollo 514, the greater part of this giant machine would have flown as Apollo 19, had this mission not been cancelled in 1970. The booster is as close to original as possible, given it is pieced together: second stage S-II-14 and third stage S-IVB-514 are original, but the big daddy first stage is S-IC-T - a training version that wasn't flight qualified.

You'll hear many people describe this incredible rocket as "mostly gas." They're right. The Saturn V launch vehicle contained 5.6 million pounds (960,000 gallons) of propellant, making the fuel to payload ratio 50 to 1! Of course, given the five massive F-1 engines in the S-IC first stage produced a total of 7.5 million pounds of thrust, a lot of gas was a necessity.

The Last of the Line

This is Command-Service Module number 119 - the "backup's backup." This vehicle would have served as Skylab rescue - had that ever been needed, and was also the spare for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), the last Apollo mission ever flown. Please note that even the most beautifully preserved spacecraft artifacts can sometime use a bit of tidying-up (thruster quad inset).

The interior of this ship has been removed, so a look into the open docking tunnel shows an empty bulkhead. However, you can easily have a look at a fully equipped CM, as the actual flown ASTP spacecraft (CSM-111) sits nearby.


Lunch With The "Lem"

If you pick the right seat in the Moonrock Cafe, this is what you see right over your lunch table. It's the business end of LM 9, the last of the H models (original shorter duration LMs). It was originally slated for Apollo 15 until they upgraded to a J series mission - which required another day longer on the Moon, and carried the Lunar Rover. (Staring into the descent engine made me want to watch for minute quantities of hypergolic rocket fuel falling into my pommes frittes.)