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2/19/2006: Saturn C-1 Propulsion Alignment Fixture

Saturn C-1 Alignment Fixture at MSFC
Saturn C-1 Alignment Fixture at Marshall Space Flight Center (Click for enlargement) 

Before Wernher von Braun's Army Ballistic Missile Agency team erected its first Saturn cluster booster (SA-T) into its new Saturn Static Test Tower East at the end of Februrary 1960 (several months before ABMA was transferred to NASA), it installed this interesting "Saturn Alignment Fixture". The fixture was a mockup of the base of the Saturn booster that included eight simulated H-1 engines and a simulated tank cluster up to the base of the outer propellant tank bulkheads. The fixture was not outfitted with a heat shield fairing around the thrust section.

The fixture was installed at Static Test Tower East on January 4, 1960 and removed on February 1, 1960. It was used to verify mechanical, pneumatic, fluid, and electrical connections between the test stand and the Saturn booster.

A close look at the fixture reveals the configuration of the early "Block I" Saturn booster thrust structure, which was based on a triangular truss and beam arrangement to transfer loads from the engines to the tank cluster above. Later Saturn 1 boosters, beginning with SA-5, used a more rigid barrel assembly design in place of the truss arrangement.

See Saturn 1 History for more information.

For more Saturn artifact images, go to the Library page.

For a full accounting of Saturn 1, 1B, and V test and flight hardware, visit the Space Launch Report Saturn Vehicle History pages.