PART III : 1958-1959

12. Saturn, 1959



[223] The authorization of a large rocket vehicle by the Advanced Research Projects Agency in August 1958 and assignment of its development to the Army Ballistic Missile Agency marked the beginning of a series of successful large launch vehicles. In October 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency asked to absorb ABMA's space group, but an agreement was reached two months later for the group to remain with the Army while being responsive to NASA. This decision was to be reconsidered and reversed within a year.


The competition in large launch vehicles between NASA, ARPA, Air Force, and Army, begun in 1958, continued into 1959. The government settled the issue by selecting Saturn as the single large vehicle to serve all needs. Left unresolved until the closing days of 1959, however, was the configuration of Saturn's upper stages.


The competitive actions between government agencies with respect to launch vehicles, the emergence of Saturn, and the bold decision to use liquid hydrogen-oxygen in Saturn's upper stages are related in this chapter.