Nevada Appeal at 150: Nov. 9, 1967: Saturn orbits record 40-ton space craft

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America’s Saturn 5 super-rocket scored a resounding success on its maiden test flight today, orbiting a record 40-ton space vehicle and shooting the unmanned Apollo 4 moonship deep into space.

The historic flight gave this nation’s man-in-space program a much needed shot in the arm and revived hopes that U.S. astronauts can still land on the moon in this decade.

With a thundering burst of power, the most powerful rocket ever assembled blasted away from its launch pad at exactly 7 a.m. EST today after a perfect countdown — something few people believed possible for such a complex machine.

The three stages of the monster Saturn 5 ignited with drill-like precision during an 11-minute boost phase and shoved the massive payload, including the still-attached third stage, into orbit 115 miles high.

An hour after the world’s most powerful rocket blazed away from Cape Kennedy, Fla., the Apollo program manager, Air Force Maj. Gen. Samuel Phillips told newsmen: “Yesterday I would have said that I think we have a reasonably good chance of accomplishing a manned lunar landing by the end of 1969. Today I think that reasonably good chance is maybe a notch above reasonably good.”

This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.


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