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Space Science

Moon Rocket Scrubbed and Blown Dry 305

loid_void writes "Reutersis is reporting that a giant Apollo moon rocket that never got off the ground is about to get a face-lift after years of rusting away in the Texas heat and humidity at the Johnson Space Center. Workers will construct a shelter for the Saturn V rocket and give it the equivalent of a "blow dry" in the first steps to preserve the relic of NASA's golden age, said Allan Needell, Apollo program curator for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. The 363-foot-long behemoth has lain on its side in front of JSC since 1977, a favorite sight of tourists, but also a victim of the elements. Instead of launching astronauts to the moon as it was built to do, it has become a slowly fading hulk of peeling paint and corroded metal where birds live and plants sprout, Needell said on Wednesday during a visit to the rocket. "There's a lot of biology growing on there," he said, pointing out streaks of algae staining the rocket's white skin."
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Moon Rocket Scrubbed and Blown Dry

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  • by KRYnosemg33 ( 709857 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:36PM (#9457083)
    I know large ships are often sunk as artificial reefs.

    How cool would it be to sink a Saturn V rocket as an artificial reef!

  • Jump back! (Score:5, Funny)

    by TigerTale ( 414169 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:38PM (#9457105)
    You mean we used to go to the Moon?
  • What a waste (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ra5pu7in ( 603513 )
    For all the people who fuss and complain about the money spent on actual space programs, this is a great example of the kind of wastefulness that goes on. And, now, rather than reuse or slag it, even more money will be spent to clean it up and display it. I'd rather see it broken apart, melted and recycled in more useful form than have a never-used moon rocket sitting in a museum.
    • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nakito ( 702386 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:43PM (#9457146)
      I'd rather see it broken apart, melted and recycled in more useful form than have a never-used moon rocket sitting in a museum.

      Going to the moon may have been the greatest single physical achievement of the human race. There are only three remaining examples of the engine that took us there. This is one of them. I say, let's keep it.
    • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:44PM (#9457151)
      Yah, God only knows how terrible it would be to preserve a piece of history!

      And we'll we're at it, let's tear down the Washington Monument and make a Parking Garage there! No need to waste all that space and stone when we could make something useful of it...

    • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:44PM (#9457152)
      Yeah, because the used rockets make such good museum pieces..

      But you're right, there's no sense in remembering things from the past. We should have melted down the Spirit of St. Louis, it has no place taking up space in a building.

      In fact, that whole Smithsonian thing is such a waste! All that valuable real estate, wasted by useless relics of the past.

      .. I really should add something to make it entirely clear I'm being sarcastic.

      "Those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it's mistakes." - paraphrased from someone famous.
      • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PPGMD ( 679725 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:01PM (#9457311) Journal
        Exactly. As a kid I remember standing in front of this rocket at JSC, and saying, "Wow!" Here was the object that took our men to the moon, quite possibly the largest moving vehicle that I have ever seen.

        Years later when I was attending Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, I flew down to Titusville to see a friend. I went by the KSC during the evening (before the post 9-11 lock down), here in that night, I could almost feel the power, it was almost as moving as when I was a kid.

        Without the past, people have nothing to aspire to, for most people what's in the books is simply writing, it's no more real than Lord of the Rings, but if you put a kid in the rocket park down there, history comes alive, here is what you are reading about, not just in words, but in towering moments to the men that rode them.

        It inspired me, I would gladly pay for them to be around to inspire future generations.

        • It made me sad, actually. Something kept telling me "this ship was supposed to go to the moon, and it's here because it didn't."

          Call me sentimental, but she looked like a giant failure of human exploration to me.
          • So if every single Saturn built had made it into orbit, would you have considered the Apollo project a gaint success of human exploration?

            So not all the Saturns got launched. I feel sad for this particular rocket, since its sole purpose in life was never realized, but the project itself was still successful--giantly so!

            And even this sad, unfulfilled engine of discovery can still find a purpose: to remain here on Earth, to stand as a monument to human exploration, and inspire in all who visit the sense of
          • Perhaps in the grand scheme of things that one rocket's purpose is to remind us of what we've accomplished before, and to inspire us to further greatness.

    • Re:What a waste (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Snowdog668 ( 227784 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:49PM (#9457192) Homepage
      I'd have to agree with you here. Especially since according to the article there's two other Saturn V's on display at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Marshall Space Center in Alabama. If it were the only one left in existance I might be able to see spending the cash. Since this would be the third museum piece I think that the money would be better spent elsewhere.

      • Perhaps.

        But think about stuff 200-300 years in the future. What happens if a freak explosion, huricane, earthquake, etc. shreads through KSC or MSC and ruins one of the Saturn Vs? Over 10 years, not too likely, but over hundreds? Would you really want the one at JSC to be the only one that escaped destruction, yet somebody melted it down to cut costs?
    • Re:What a waste (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MoxCamel ( 20484 ) *
      For all the people who fuss and complain about the money spent on actual space programs, this is a great example of the kind of wastefulness that goes on.

      I agree! And all those stupid dinosaur bones cluttering up our museums...toss em! And all those damned paintings in the Looo-ver--digitize the damn things and burn em. Waste of space! what I would have said if I were as ignorant as the original poster. There's probably more than a few scientists and/or astronauts who started down their career

    • Re:What a waste (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wankledot ( 712148 )
      Don't you think it would cost significantly more money to break it up and recycle it, just to get some Al and Fe that could be had elsewhere easier and cheaper?

      The fact that it was not used 30 years ago is wasteful, but recycling it now would be even more of a waste.

    • Slag history. Nice troll.

      Most of the public will never see all of JSC's relics. The center is a small museum in itself. Tucked away in various display cases at different locations are relics and images from NASA's history. Rocket Park is the most publicly-accessable and visible example (with the historical Mission Control being a close second). However, there are also everything from space suits to models of early Shuttle designs used in anechoic chamber tests on display in buildings only accessable b
    • I wonder how long it's going to take the treehuggers to catch wind of this and start complaining about how we're putting birds out of their homes.

  • I have to object to referring to the 1960's/70's as NASA's golden age. Surely, that should be regarded as NASA's infancy, and that NASA's golden age [] may be yet to come? Maybe it's too optimistic, but I'm a 25 year old astrophysics grad student, and I know how much is out there waiting to be explored and examined -- I don't want to have to live my life in the belief that my industry's best days were before I was born!
    • by cerebralsugar ( 203167 ) * on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:44PM (#9457155)
      It's not too optimistic at all, it just won't be done by NASA. Everyone who has seen Star Trek knows we will have to have a 3rd world war first, and then a drunken scientist resembling James Cromwell will invent warp drive in an alcoholic haze. Then of course, Starfleet will be borne, and we will all want to shag either that vulcan girl and that hot african communications lady.
      • Thank goodness for kids like you, because I've lost hope of ever seeing space. As a kid, the goal of space travel for us all seemed so close. We were sending men to the moon all the time, so how long would it take until we could all go?

        As a kid, I grew up wanting to work at NASA like my dad. He worked at JSC (used to be "Manned" Space Center before being renamed after LBJ) from 1963 until 1990. I worked in and around JSC and Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Al. for 15 years, and, believe me,

      • Don't forget about the councelor with the large nacelles, and the borg with the large implants.

      • ...we will all want to shag either that vulcan girl...

        Oh yeah! Pieces of Eight! Mmmm!

      • Ironically enough, according to star trek lore, the first human to build a warp capable craft builds it in a Saturn V after the 3rd world war. But then again it also says there were supposed to be wars over eugenics in the mid-late 90s
    • Agreed. Mod Parent Up.

      We need goals. I want to live my life trying to do something big for humanity. Too many people these days see their job as a necessary evil to getting a paycheck.

    • by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:58PM (#9457280) Homepage
      It all depends.

      The 60s/70s are definately the infancy of humanity in space. They hopefully are *not* the only golden age of humanity in space.

      They may, however, be the golden age of NASA, when NASA could do no wrong.

      It all depends on the next 20 years, I'd say. Will NASA continue to be the only road to space, or will National Geographic or the Discovery Channel be able to mount their own space missions? I mean, the last space IMAX film made 50 million. That doesn't buy you much now, but if launch costs are down, you might be able to fund a mission just for the IMAX film.

      It's really an open question for me if the government, academia, or private industry is best suited to really explore space. Each one has their drawbacks, but so far the government has been in the driver's seat.

      So yeah, there's probably room for a even-more-golden age in the future (call it the palladium age ;) ) but it may not be at NASA's behest.

      Our current Babylon-5-esque best hope for space is probably the garage hacking of Scaled COmposites and Armadillo Aerospace.

      • The 60s/70s are definately the infancy of humanity in space. They hopefully are *not* the only golden age of humanity in space.

        They may, however, be the golden age of NASA, when NASA could do no wrong.

        It was also a time period when NASA was properly funded and (mostly) ran by the guys with sliderules in their pockets. Today's NASA has the potential. But it'll take funding and a major overhaul. I don't see how either will happen.
        • by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @09:12PM (#9458784) Homepage
          The problem is, it's harder than you think.

          The real thing that limits space exploration is pretty much cost per pound to orbit. Because it's so damn expensive, you have to make all kinds of nasty comprimizes.

          The problem is that the shuttle never lived up to its promise. It takes far too many people to keep it going and far too expensive.

          The best solution is to retire the shuttle sooner rather than later, stop spaceflight for a few years, and develop something new. However, in doing so, you run the decided risk of being a budget cut target in Congress (And Congressional budget issues is what made the shuttle suck in the first place) and the entire manned space program shut down.

          It doesn't help that the Russians can't keep the ISS going forever with just Soyuz and Progress capsules and that they are, in general, not the best of partners. So if the shuttle is out for another few years, it's highly likely that the ISS will end up like Skylab, which ends up with another hunk of money wasted.

          The problem is, NASA wasn't paid to do things *right* it was paid to do things *fast* and *cheap*. So most of the chances to make the space program more of a long-term thing were passed up, even when they were properly funded and run by the guys with sliderules.
    • The term "golden age" is a way of looking at the history of a thing, then picking the sweet spot.

      Having said that, the golden age of NASA was probably about 1967 to 197x? Just before and after we walked on the moon.

      How can I define this range? Because that's when even the lowliest NASA geek had status second to none, except for the astronauts; And status will get you laid.
    • I have to object to referring to the 1960's/70's as NASA's golden age.

      A golden age [] is period in a field of endeavour where great tasks were accomplished. The term originated from early Greek and Roman poets who used to refer to a time when mankind lived in a utopia and was pure.

      First men in space, first men on the moon, first probes to other planets: Great tasks.

      A golden age is a time that came before ours in which things were better. Men were real men, women were real women, and small fury creatures f
  • Kansas Cosmosphere (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) * on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:43PM (#9457142) Journal
    I wonder if they'll have any involvement. After all they [] single-handedly restored the Liberty Bell 7 [] (their link here []. And also helped with the restoration of the Apollo 13 [] as well. When you tought of Kansas, you probably didn't think of space now did ya?
    • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:56PM (#9457264) Homepage Journal
      Sad to say, but I just went through JSC a couple of weeks ago, and I really wasn't impressed.

      This is Johnson freaking Space CENTER for crying out loud - yet the items they had on display at the visitor's center weren't much better than the items in the Hall Of Space at the Cosmosphere - in many ways KSC has them beat (KSC's Redstone rocket is in better shape, KSC has an SR-71 in addition to the T-38, KSC has the original Apollo "White Room").

      Look, JSC *is* NASA - KSC is a private sector organization in the middle of Kansas (more or less).

      It just doesn't seem right for me to be walking around JSC's visitor center saying "Yawn. Ho-hum. Got anything better?"
      • Yea :-/ kinda sux.

        Reno residents still get in free? I might have to stop in my next trip back 'home' :)
        • I don't know about Reno, as I am a Sedgwick County resident, but I fork over the bucks every year to be a member, so I get into the Hall of Space for no additional fee anyway.

          I told CleverNickName about the KSC - he was looking for things to do on his next trip into Tulsa for a SF con (posted in his Journal), and I told him a detour north would be a good idea. Now, the question is, will Wil do it?
      • "KSC is a private sector organization in the middle of Kansas (more or less)."

        Hold on, are you talking about the same [] KSC that I'm thinking of? That already has an actual saturn V rocket [] on display inside of an air-conditioned building together with the actual launch control room equipment? Note that the KSC I'm talking about is in Florida [], not in Kansas, not even more or less...
    • by daeley ( 126313 ) * on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:08PM (#9457371) Homepage
      When you tought of Kansas, you probably didn't think of space now did ya?

      Having suffered through several cross-Kansas drives during Summer vacation trips as a kid, I can tell you there is just about nothing *but* space in Kansas. ;)
      • Psssh. I live in Kansas. While I'm not going to bust out on some fanatical allegiance to The Sunflower State, I still got to stand up and say this is still a good state, if a little Republican at times, with plenty to do and see.

        I-70 towards Hays sucks though. I know it'll get modded down, blah blah, but someone's gotta take a stand. =P
  • by Sean80 ( 567340 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:44PM (#9457150)
    Obviously, for any geek worth their stripes, the Saturn V rockets are a pretty awesome piece of history. Well, for this geek at least. It honestly surprises me that they let it come to this in the first place. Does anybody know what the condition of the other 2 is? How was it that this one was not deemed historically significant enough to be taken of?

    Although I've lived in the US for a few years now, I've never had the opportunity to go see some of this stuff. Seeing this thing cleaned up and in a permanent display will definitely be worth the price of admission.

    • by Gunfighter ( 1944 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:21PM (#9457468) Homepage
      With most of the Saturn V rockets weathering away thanks to the elements, I can not stress what a difference it can make to actually go to the Kennedy Space Center and see the restored Saturn V inside the (air conditioned... thank heavens) Apollo/Saturn V Center. Not only do you get the to see the rocket itself, but they also have a full blown tour complete with a view of the launch pads and (for us geeks) the actual consoles used at launch control. Definitely worth a visit.

      Side note: If you stay in the Cocoa Beach area overnight, make sure you book yourself on the big casino cruise boat for that evening. Even if you don't gamble, it's free, fun, and the buffet rocks.

    • Wikipedia has an extremely informative entry [] on the Saturn V, which includes a neat table of Saturn V launches and a note about the three Saturn Vs on display. Quoting:

      Currently there are three Saturn Vs on display:

      * At the Johnson Space Center made up of first stage of SA-514, the second stage from SA-515 and the third stage from SA-513

      * At the Kennedy Space Center made up of S-IC-T and the second and third stages from SA-514

      * At the US Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama made up of S-IC-D
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <.teamhasnoi. .at.> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:45PM (#9457162) Journal
    And in honor of the Saturn V incredible amount of thrust, we'll only serve partially-cooked Mexican food, broccoli and Velamints!
  • by jpnews ( 647965 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:51PM (#9457205)
    I live in Houston and I've visited JSC a lot of times through the years. The Saturn V is in bad condition, and has been steadily getting worse. Something surely needs to be done.

    And to those who have called it a waste of resources, I have only this to say. All the money in the world won't be of any use if we don't create another generation of engineers and scientists. I've personally seen the look in a kid's eyes when they get up close to something enormous and meaningful. You just can't buy that.
    • All the money in the world won't be of any use if we don't create another generation of engineers and scientists. I've personally seen the look in a kid's eyes when they get up close to something enormous and meaningful. You just can't buy that.

      I agree that we need projects and items which inspire the current generation to believe that will still have the ability to get out and explore. I also believe that it is the likes of daring private projects such as Scaled Composites [] who best serve this need.

    • I know your opinion will be a popular one in a pro-tech, largely childless arena like /., but we also can't create the next generation of engineers and scientists when there's not even enough textbooks for the kids.

      In our districts, the kids have to take turns checking out, and studying from, the horrendously outdated textbooks the school does have.

      A textbook. You just can buy that.

    • Actually, you CAN buy that, if the money is spent on restoring the Saturn V...
    • I've personally seen the look in a kid's eyes when they get up close to something enormous ...

      I think we just found Michael Jackson's Slashdot ID!!! *rimshot*
  • YES! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sounder40 ( 243087 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:51PM (#9457206)

    I drive past it several times a week (down Saturn Drive for the locals), and it just makes me sick to see it in the shape it's in. Thank God it's finally going to be taken care of and treated as the treasure it is. The pictures don't do justice to the damage being done to the ship.

    By the way, as a teenager, I was horrified to hear that they were going to display it on its side. I thought for sure that it was going to be displayed upright. What a dweeb I was (am?). Yeah, that would be great: make it so you could only see the bottom. And then there's the problems it would cause with low-flying aircraft, (lots of them, including those annoying advertizement-pulling planes). Oh, and we get hurricanes down here in these parts.

    • Thank God? (Score:2, Funny)

      by DaveKAO ( 320532 )
      Don't you mean thank the American tax payer?
    • Re:YES! (Score:3, Informative)

      by nanter ( 613346 )
      In Huntsville, Alabama, they have an old Saturn rocket that is displayed upright at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

      Quite a sight when flying in. You you weren't that much of a dweeb for thinking they would do the same with that rocket.

  • by thoolie ( 442789 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:58PM (#9457285)
    Am I the only one who sees this as a great pick up line?

    Me: Hay baby, you want to scrup and blowm my rocket clean?

    Random gal: *SLAP*.... jerk!

    • Am I the only one who sees this as a great pick up line?
      [. . .]
      Random gal: *SLAP*

      This is why us geeks can't get chicks. Our definition of a "great" pickup line is the one that generates the hardest slap. :)

  • by OriginalArlen ( 726444 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:00PM (#9457300)
    Surely it's obvious that, in the interests of science, this rocket should be renovated, refueled, and have a Chevy Impala tacked on the top, where it lies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:06PM (#9457358)
    A similar effort is under way at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center [] in Huntsville, Alabama. In fact, they've created a special license plate to help raise funds. Otherwise, the Smithsonian has threatened to take the Saturn V back. (Which would certainly be an interesting sight.) You can see the license plate at the bottom of this page [].
  • Plastic (Score:2, Funny)

    by DaveKAO ( 320532 )
    I thought Saturn's used plastic body panels and therefore couldn't rust? Oh wait... that's the car company.
  • do something useful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by real gumby ( 11516 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:10PM (#9457386)
    The best way to honor the memory of "NASA's golden age" would be to top it.

    NASA does excellent unmanned science, but the moon shot, cool as it was, wasn't good science or space policy.

    Good thing private efforts are starting to pick up the slack. []

    I must add that the most awe-inspiring thing to me is that all the construction, design and launch was done on slide rules [].
    • I'd beg to differ about the science thing.

      We know a lot more about it because of the manned landings than we did because of all of the *unmanned* probes. When's the last time you heard about any real results from anybody *but* the apollo astronauts and the folks who analized the stuff they brought back.

      Although I'd definately agree it wasn't especially good space policy.

      I'm not surprised about the whole slide rule thing, really. Longer calculations mean that you get it 85% right and robust instead of t
  • Saturn V Engines (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sounder40 ( 243087 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:15PM (#9457420)

    When I was at Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Al., they used to test the SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engines) at a test stand a few miles from my building. I was amazed at the power and noise of the SSMEs until an oldtimer told me what it was like when they tested one of the Saturn V engines: He said your coffee cup would literally bounce off of the desk, and forget talking on the phone during a test fire. And that was just the one engine. Imagine what it was like when they all fired at the same time...

    • Re:Saturn V Engines (Score:4, Interesting)

      by domodude ( 613072 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:33PM (#9457617)
      All of that testing actually worked. Not one of the 32 Saturn V rockets ever exploded; this is amazing when you think of how there are literally millions of parts that could break and cause a critical failure. Wernher von Braun, who also helped with the German V2 rocket, truly was a genius.
    • Re:Saturn V Engines (Score:3, Informative)

      by demonbug ( 309515 )
      I was curious, so I looked up the output of the Shuttle's main engines compared to the Saturn V main engines.
      The shuttle's main engines [] produce a maximum of 488,000 pounds of thrust. The Saturn V main engines [] produced a total of 7.5 million pounds of thrust, or 1.5 million pounds per engine. So it looks like each engine on the Saturn V was about 3 times as powerful as each of the main engines on the shuttle.
      Oh, the solid rocket boosters [] on the shuttle each produce 3.3 million pounds of thrust.
  • "after years of rusting away"

    rusty titanium?

    Surely its not made of ferrous metal?
    or even got much ferrous metal in it...?

  • Why are we spending precious money that could be better spent either giving it to corporations or proving that the moon landing was a fake
  • Up until a couple of years ago, I used to work for IBM on Space Park Drive in Houston (you can see the rocket as you drive out of the parking lot of Building 8). Any visitors I had would inevitably get a trip around JSC.

    The rocket is not in good shape - there are holes in it, and the paintwork is cracking and peeling. It was quite sad really. Good they are doing some work on it.
  • Apollo 18 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mike Van Pelt ( 32582 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:11PM (#9458413)
    I worked at the Johnson Space Center for two years, back in 1976-1978, and I was there when they brought in the Saturn V.

    This was actual flight hardware that was supposed to have gone to the moon for the Apollo 18 mission. When they brought it in, it still had red "Remove before flight" tags hanging from various places.

    I am ... really annoyed, saddened, and angry that NASA has let this vehicle rot away.
  • I never saw the Saturn Launch (THE BIG KAHUNA), but I did see a night launch of the Shuttle once from a friend's yard that was 15 miles away from the Launch Gantry.

    I could not see the Gantry, so I had to wait 'till it came over the trees. It was a moonless night. The moment it was ignited, and minutes before I saw it, the sky turned an acetylene-yellow and night became as day. Had I been driving on Interstate 95 there is no doubt I could have turned of my lights and drivrn in complete safety at 70+ MP

  • by slurpburp ( 747225 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @09:40PM (#9458916)
    I am also in possesion of a rocket which has been neglected for far too long. Where do I sign up to have it 'scrubed and blown'?
  • Someone submit this thing for X Prize!
  • I thought they were going to clean it up and prep it for launch! Now that would have been worth reading about... =)
  • What about documenting its decay?

    Let is lay, rusting in that field. Lets spend our interest on documenting its decay.

    Watch our fleeting focus on expanse slip away, get ruined by moss and tears.

    Whats the hurry? Think this is all we have to achieve?

    Take pictures of the dustpile. Our great-great-great-great...great grandchildren will find our travels -- and our sense of accomplishment -- amusing.

    History is a long time.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein