Project Apollo, was the third United States human spaceflight program carried out by NASA, which succeeded in landing the first humans on the moon in July, 1969. The Apollo program ran until 1972 and was later dedicated to President John F. Kennedy’s national goal of “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth” as outlined in his speech to congress on May 25, 1961. Apollo was the third US spaceflight program to fly, preceded by the two-man Gemini program, which expanded our understanding of spaceflight requirements in support of Apollo launches to follow. JFK’s goal was ultimately realized with the Apollo 11 mission when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their Apollo Lunar Module (LM) called “The Eagle” (LM) on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong was the first man to step on the surface of the moon, followed by Buzz Aldrin while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command and Service Module (CSM). All three astronauts landed safely on July 24.
Landing men on the moon by the end of 1969 required unprecedented amount of technological advancement and the largest commitment of funding ($25 billion in 1960’s dollars) by any country. As the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket ever produced, the original Saturn V was a 3-stage rocket, standing 363 feet high (110.6m) tall, weighed approximately 6.2 million pounds (most of that weight was liquid propellant) and generated 7.2 million pounds of thrust at lift off. This leviathan was able to launch the 45-ton Apollo 11 payload beyond low earth orbit, which was necessary for sending men to the moon. All Apollo and other Saturn V missions were launched from Launch Complex 39 (LC-39) at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After launch of the Saturn V in Florida, actual flight control was transferred to Johnson Space Center‘s Mission Control in Houston, Texas.
When Apollo 11 mission reached the moon, the command and service module remained in orbit while the two-stage Apollo Lunar Module (known as “The Eagle”) was flown by Neil and Buzz to its designated landing in Mare Tranquilities. After exploring the moon’s surface, the second stage of the Eagle was flown back to dock with the command module and then discarded. Upon returning to Earth, the Apollo 11 capsule had its own Reaction Control System (RCS) to control its attitude and to assist in steering during its high speed decent through earth’s atmosphere. Three huge reentry parachutes were used to slow its descent to splashdown.
The Apollo Program set several spaceflight milestones. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while the final Apollo 17 mission marked the sixth moon landing. The program returned 842 pounds (382 kg) of lunar rocks and soil to Earth, greatly contributing to the understanding of the Moon’s composition and geological history. Apollo had five subsequent missions, the last in December 1972 and in total, put 12 astronauts on the surface of the moon.
After more than half a century, the Saturn V still remains the tallest and most powerful rocket ever built. Then and now, the sheer magnitude on how this epic and iconic rocket came to be still wow’s rocketeers around the world. Over the last fifty years, Estes’s product designers and developers poured endless energy into bringing the best and most modern Saturn V to its beloved customers. Here’s a walk down the Estes’ Saturn V memory lane.
In the late 60’s, the motor and safety limits of the day made creating the Saturn V no easy feat for Estes designers. The model rocket safety code limited models to a maximum liftoff of one pound. That determined the mass of the rocket, which drove the decision for a 1/100 scale model. Back in those days engines choices were limited to A, B and C’s, creating the need for clustering three C engines to create the amount of thrust needed to lift the 9.9 oz rocket into the air. Clustering brought on technical challenges due to the old school nichrome wire igniters (starters) and, because more engines meant more engine failures. The Saturn V quickly transitioned to the single black powder D engine after it was released in 1970. From 1970 through 1985, Estes’ provided customers with the choice of using the three 18mm cluster or one 24mm engine to launch the Saturn V skyward.
From 1969 through 1979, Estes’ also released a 1/242 Semi-Scale Saturn V [K-39/1239] kit. Standing 18.1 in. tall and weighing 12 oz., this model was not-fully detailed, but was still a good representation of the Saturn V with its pre-printed wrap on corrugated paper, clear plastic fins, quick release engine mount and 12 in. parachute.
The 1/100 Saturn V took a brief hiatus in 1986 and 1987 but came back in 1988 with some serious upgrades. Keith Kiskern, the designer of the first and most famous Saturn V model completely redesigned and refined the 1988 model. Scaled directly from official NASA drawings, the finished model stood over 43 in. tall and soared to over 100 feet on ONLY one mighty D12-3 engine. The internal structure was redone to ease assembly and to assure a safer, more realistic recovery. The balsa fins were also moderately overscaled to increase flight stability. Improved and amplified detailing included such parts as a sully molded plastic Apollo capsule, escape tower, and main engine display nozzles, which were easily removed for flight.
In 1998/99, Estes released the limited edition, and now considered rare, 30th Anniversary Saturn V kit . Standing just over 43 in. tall and weighing in at 10.2 oz, this kit was only available for a short time during the time of the anniversary and again in 2011 for a brief come-back.
Twenty years later, Estes’ re-released the limited edition 50th Anniversary 1/100 Saturn V . Having updated every plastic part, this kit includes accurate and detailed body wraps, an easier to assemble escape tower, injection molded fins and a detailed, removable display nozzle that doubles as a display stand. Still standing over 43 in. tall, and now weighing in at 11oz, this highly detailed scale flying model reaches heights of about 350 feet on an E30-4 composite engine. Staying true to the original model, this rocket returns to earth on two 24in. parachutes for the body and one 18in. chute for the capsule.
For those looking for an accurate replica of the historic Saturn V without committing to the 20 plus hours of precise building and finishing time, the Ready to Fly 1/200 scale Saturn V  is a superb alternative. This commemorative, limited edition model stands almost two feet tall and weighs 5 oz. It can reach heights of 200 feet above ground on a C6-3 engine and is safely lowered down on one 18 in. parachute.
1969 Saturn V 1:100 Scale
2160 Saturn V 1:200 Scale
2160WEB Saturn V 1:200 Scale Starter Set
The Saturn V starter set combines everything you need to fly in one bundle for your shipping convenience. Includes: