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Home > Some Year-by-Year Marshall Highlights > Marshall Highlights for 1964

Marshall Highlights for 1964

The Marshall Center began 1964 with the successful flight of another Saturn I rocket.

Mission SA-5 was the first Saturn to have live first and second stages. The flight on January 29 tested the performance of the complete vehicle system and its capability to place an inert payload of 37,700 pounds in an earth orbit.

In 1964, the Marshall Center formally ended its prime contract with Lockheed Missiles and Space Company for the Reactor in Flight (RIFT) vehicle. The decision to end the contract on February 14 followed the cancellation of the nuclear vehicle project by NASA and the Atomic Energy Commission.

Work on the Saturn project dominated 1964. On February 17, Marshall installed the first stage for the Saturn SA-9 vehicle in the Saturn I Static Test Tower. The stage was the last Saturn I booster to be assembled in Huntsville.

During February work continued on expanding the facilities needed to test the Saturn rockets. Marshall completed assembly of the transporter for the huge Saturn V S-IC stage while construction crews completed erection of the F-1 Engine Test Stand steel superstructure and flame detector.

On March 6, technicians moved the S-IC test fuel tank, the first major Saturn V component assembled at MSFC, to a Load Test Annex to prepare for load proof testing.

The work on Saturn at Marshall attracted the attention of numerous dignitaries during the year. For example, on March 24 Mrs. Lyndon Johnson made a one-day visit to the Center where she viewed two static firings.

During the same month, the Center marked a milestone in the Saturn V program when NASA approved the award of a $5.5 million contract to IBM covering the first phase of IBM's instrument unit integration effort for the Saturn IB and Saturn V programs.

In April Building 4201, the second of three buildings in the MSFC headquarters office complex, was completed by builders. Approximately 650 Industrial Operations personnel began moving into this six-story Engineering and Administration Building. Also during April, NASA selected IBM as the lead contractor to develop the Instrument Unit for the Saturn IB and Saturn V vehicles.

April brought a temporary halt to F-1 engine research and development firings at contractor sites and at MSFC. The decision came following an F-1 engine liquid oxygen pump explosion, the second within three months.

On May 6, MSFC awarded a $2.2 million contract for construction of Building 4202, the third structure in the Center office complex.

The performance capability of the complete Saturn I vehicle was reaffirmed on May 28 when NASA successfully launched the second Block II Saturn (SA-6) at Cape Kennedy. The mission was designed to test the first closed-loop operation of the SA-6 guidance system. As part of the flight test the SA- 6 placed the first unmanned boilerplate model of the Apollo spacecraft into Earth orbit.

On June 24, NASA approved a J-2 engine production contract with Rocketdyne for 55 engines. In late June the Marshall Center awarded a number of study contracts involving Saturn V improvements, planetary probes, and lunar transportation and logistic techniques.

The Marshall Center also marked a milestone in plans for development of its first large-scale scientific payload. On July 21, NASA Headquarters formally named the project. Officials decided to call the micrometeoroid measurement project the "Pegasus" project. It called the capsules Pegasus A, Pegasus B and Pegasus C.

On August 24, NASA announced that it would purchase 102 additional J-2 engines for Saturn IB and Saturn V vehicles, at an approximate cost of $165 million.

The F-1 Engine Test Stand facility at Marshall was completed on September 1 while major construction was completed on the Saturn V Dynamic Test Facility on September 30.

September 18 brought the liftoff of SA-7. The payload weighed about 37,000 pounds and consisted of the Apollo command and service modules, instrument unit and spent S-IV stage.

On November 15, construction ended on the Saturn V Barge Block and Loading facility at MSFC. In mid-December Fairchild Hiller company completed fabrication and checkout of the Pegasus A capsule and transferred it for final checkout to the General Electric plant at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The capsule arrived at the launch site on December 29.

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