Saturn VE — 1980

Skylab III and Apollo Ferry SL80B climb to orbit

“SRB Sep! Go at 2 minutes”

It was never quite apparent how the Saturn VE got its name. It could have been the VA, or VB — the agency said they’d avoided VC to avoid any confusion with the S-IC, and of course, we all knew why they’d skipped VD.

Most still called it plain ‘Saturn V’ to avoid confusion — especially as it was now able to launch with 2 or 4 solid rocket boosters. Formally, NASA called them Saturn VE — 2, or VE — 4, depending on configuration.

Launched in March 1980, this was the first manned flight aboard the Saturn VE, testing not only the booster but also the launch of a Command and Service Module atop an Orbital Workshop — Skylab III. The final Skylab would prove to be the longest lived, orbiting for 8 years before retirement and re-entry in 1988. Olympus, its replacement, had been launched two weeks earlier.

The picture shows the liquid fuelled S-IC stage in its final seconds of powered flight before the S-II took over. Four Saturn Solid Rocket Boosters (SSRB) tumble to Earth, where they would land under parachutes in the Atlantic for reuse.

Picture edited from an image by Bob Montanaro.

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I like spaceships, I like alternate history, I like writing 👉👈

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Reece Emmitt

Reece Emmitt

I like spaceships, I like alternate history, I like writing 👉👈

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