NASA Podcasts

Historic Recordings: KSC Report 46, Interview with Dr. Kurt Debus following Apollo 4 Flight
Nov. 9, 1967
 
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LAUNCH COMMENTATOR:
Five... four...

Sound of rocket engines firing

NARRATOR:
KSC Reports -- a weekly coverage of events of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's John F. Kennedy Space Center.

At exactly seven o'clock, Thursday morning, November ninth, 1967, the most powerful vehicle ever built by man was launched on a flight into space... heralding with its thunderous roar the manned flights to come that will explore our moon and worlds beyond. Apollo 4 lifted from the pad at Kennedy Space Center precisely on schedule, to the cheers of thousands at the spaceport and around the country who had contributed their time and skills to transform a dream into awe-inspiring reality. Just over eight-and-a-half hours later, the Apollo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean within six miles of the recovery vessel awaiting its return from space.

Dr. Kurt Debus, director of the Kennedy Space Center, was very pleased with the spaceport's performance in launching this maiden voyage of the Saturn V rocket. Dr. Debus said the significance of the launch has several aspects of prime importance to the Apollo and Saturn programs.

DEBUS:
One is, of course, that after long years of preparing, of laying out and of designing and building and constructing a new type facility, this facility was put to the hot fire test (inaudible) and, as inspection shortly after launch indicated, has done extremely well.

The second item of significance is the demonstration of a successful building of a launch team. This has been accomplished and it has been demonstrated. I'm very proud of these people who have done all they possibly could, who have sacrificed much of their own personal life for an ideal, for a goal, which is to give this nation a powerful new rocket in its stable.

And the third significant event is that all parts that constitute the launch vehicle, which is practically three propelled stages and one unpropelled stage -- instrument unit -- and the total spacecraft, were for the first time all put together here and put to the test. As it appears, this gamble, which is in the best interest for the overall program though, has succeeded and it has been demonstrated at the present time. One can indeed engineer a new vehicle group in the laboratory, in the drawing on the drawing board, and can test the components on the ground to the satisfaction of the factual environment that each of these stages will see.

So summing up, I think these three main events demonstrated that this nation has done a significant step forward in achieving a status and retaining its status in the overall space effort.

NARRATOR:
This first launch of a Saturn V from Kennedy Space Center marks another first for the launch organization, headed by Dr. Debus, that launched the first Redstone rocket from the Cape back in 1953.

DEBUS:
From early days on, the observing of a first is always exciting and you envision and expect certain things to happen. The specific difference here is that after the word "ignition" was heard, and the time had indicated that ignition occurred, one sees nothing here. For about two or three seconds, there is absolutely no indication of a tail fire. Then there is a gradual buildup as expected, by design of course, but not in one's mind. It takes, then, some seconds for the total buildup of thrust, and a full two-second deviation full-thrust hold-down condition in which this launch vehicle is sitting and exhausting a tremendous amount of heat and fire and compressed gases.

The release is very slow and the rise along the umbilical tower is very slow. It takes a total of 19 seconds, which at that moment appeared to be minutes, as it takes off. I think I could observe a clear separation between the tail exhaust plume and the launch umbilical tower, something that is very important to us of course. And as this rocket lifts off, the majestic way in which it performs is very impressive, more impressive than anything I have ever seen.

NARRATOR:
With the successful launch and flight of Apollo 4, America's space exploration program has taken a mighty leap forward along the pathway that leads to the stars.

LAUNCH COMMENTATOR:
Five... four...

Sound of rocket engines firing

This has been KSC Report -- a weekly coverage of events of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's John F. Kennedy Space Center.

 
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