In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy envisioned an American on the moon by the end of the decade, NASA turned to Marshall Space Flight Center to create the incredibly powerful rocket needed to turn this presidential vision into reality. Since its beginning in 1960, Marshall has provided the agency with mission-critical design, development and integration of the launch and space systems required for space operations, exploration and scientific missions.
This small group of unidentified officials is dwarfed by the gigantic size of the Saturn V first stage (S-1C) at the shipping area of the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The towering 363-foot Saturn V was a multi-stage, multi-engine launch vehicle standing taller than the Statue of Liberty. Altogether, the Saturn V engines produced as much power as 85 Hoover Dams.
Marshall’s legacy in rocket engineering includes providing the Saturn rockets that powered Americans to the moon and the Lunar Roving Vehicle that aided exploration of the moon; managing the development of Skylab, America’s first space station; developing space shuttle propulsion systems and experiments, including Spacelab; building the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory; and building the International Space Station’s laboratory modules and experiment facilities and operating station science experiments. In addition to these major programs, Marshall has built many smaller science experiments and conducts science in a variety of disciplines. Marshall’s expertise in building large space systems and unique interdisciplinary approach to problem solving brings scientific and engineering expertise together, providing answers that improve life on Earth and provide a foundation for deep space exploration.
Watch archival film and video from some of the greatest develop enisn NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s history.
Learn More about the History of Marshall Space Flight Center
Power to Explore
Power to Explore: A History of Marshall Space Flight Center, 1960–1990 provides a detailed history of the center's beginnings and defining projects between 1960 and 1990. (PDF)
Saturn Oral Histories
Read transcripts of oral history interviews with project engineers and other personnel who worked on the Saturn rockets.
Marshall History Stories
Learn how it all began. Read about Marshall’s role in rocket history and space science. Find articles, pictures, and videos of events from Marshall’s past from the early years of rocket pioneer Dr. Wernher von Braun to the International Space Station.
Jeanette Scissum joined Marshall Space Flight Center in 1964 after earning bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Alabama A&M University. Scissum later worked at NASA Headquarters as a computer systems analyst responsible for analyzing and directing NASA management information and technical support systems.
In 1952, Billie Robertson accepted a position with the Army and the Wernher von Braun rocket team and worked with guidance and control computer software. Over her career, she developed the manual for computer models related to launches during the Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) programs.
During her career, Dickerson rose through the ranks holding various positions of increasing authority including Deputy Director of Employee and Organizational Development, where she retired after thirty-nine years of service.
The first female welding engineer to work in the Materials and Processes Laboratory at Marshall, Margaret Brennecke was called upon to make critical decisions on the selection of lightweight high-strength metals and welding techniques for the Saturn rocket.
Hall came to NASA in June 1974 with an appointment as NASA’s Federal Women’s Program Coordinator, after serving as the Associate Director for Interagency Training, Equal Employment Opportunity Training Institute and Bureau of Training.