Alan Lawrie

Alan Lawrie is a noted historian on Saturn V and Saturn I/IB launch vehicles. He is a satellite propulsion engineer working for Airbus Defence and Space in the United Kingdom. During his career he has worked with space propulsion companies around the world and managed the procurement of propulsion engines, tanks, and valves for satellite systems. He has written for Spaceflight magazine and is a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. He has worked in the space propulsion industry since 1980.

Alan Lawrie

Alan Lawrie
Photo by heroicrelics.

In 1989, Alan applied to Project Juno, which aimed to fly the first British astronaut into space. Funded by a private consortium, Project Juno purchased a seat on a Soyuz spacecraft for a mission to the Mir space station. More than 13,000 people applied for the position, and Alan was among 150 astronaut applicants who survived the initial rounds of the selection process. Ultimately, Helen Sharman was selected, spent 18 months training for the mission, was launched aboard Soyuz TM-12 on May 18, 1991, and spent eight days in space. Additional information about Project Juno: Part 1 | Part 2.

Alan has published four books on Saturn rockets, including

Alan Lawrie's Saturn V The complete Manufacturing and Test Records

First edition: 2005, Apogee Books (Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc.).
Second edition: 2010, Apogee Books (Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc.).

The title page inside the front cover contains a more fitting title for this book, Saturn V: The Complete Manufacturing and Test Records. The book contains information regarding the manufacturing, testing, and transportation of each Saturn V stage (both production and testing stages); the various manufacturing and test facilities used during the program; and the engines used on the stages.

The book also documents the current location of each Saturn V stage and includes a bonus DVD. Saturn was the 2006 winner of the Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Best Written Presentation.

The first edition was also available as a Signature Edition, signed by over 45 members of the von Braun Rocket Team, with proceeds from the sale of this edition benefitting the restoration of the Saturn V at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The second edition was expanded to include location information for each remaining F-1 and J-2 rocket engine, along with (of course) each engine's testing and manufacturing information.

Alan Lawrie's Saturn I/IB 1/1B The complete Manufacturing and Test Records

Saturn I/IB
2008, Apogee Books (Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc.).

The follow-up to Saturn, this book's title page christens it Saturn I/IB: The Complete Manufacturing and Test Records. The book contains the same type of information regarding the Saturn I/IB family as was contained in the previous volume.

The bonus DVD for this book contains a PDF of AS-207 Vehicle Systems Information Drawings which may look familiar, as I met Alan in early 2008, just as he was completing work on this book.

Alan Lawrie's Sacramento's Moon Rockets (SACTO)

Sacramento's Moon Rockets
2015, Arcadia Publishing.

Douglas Aircraft Company built the S-IV stage (the second stage of the Saturn I) in Santa Monica and the S-IVB stage (the second stage of the Saturn IB and also the third stage of the Saturn V) in Huntington Beach, both located on the west side of Los Angeles, and needed a less-populated area in which to test-fire the stages. This was done at the Sacramento Test Operations (SACTO) facility, located outside Sacramento. This facility was previously used to test Thor missiles (which Douglas also manufactured) but was expanded for the Saturn program.

At the end of the program, an engineer saved several boxes of photos taken by the Douglas company photographer, who had captured the entire operational lifetime of the facility. The photos sat, safely preserved, in the engineer's garage until the daughter of a NASA engineer heard of them. She scanned them and donated the originals to the Center for Sacramento History. Alan, who was at the time researching a book on SACTO, read about the donation on the Center's Website, contacted the woman who had scanned the photos and included many of them in this book.

Alan Lawrie's Saturn V Rocket

Saturn V Rocket
2016, Arcadia Publishing.

Saturn V Rocket is essentially a companion to 2005's Saturn. There's a separate chapter in this volume in the "Images of Modern America" dedicated to the manufacture, transportation, and testing of the Saturn V's S-IC, S-II, and S-IVB stages as well as its J-2 and F-1 rocket engines. Additional chapters cover erecting the rocket at Kennedy Space Center, transporting the completed launch vehicle to the pad, and actually launching it. The book's final chapter covers the hardware's current locations, from the stages in museums (and how they were transported to their current homes), to the rocket engines Jeff Bezos recovered from the ocean floor, to a photo from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the crater left by Apollo 16's S-IVB after it was crashed into the moon.

Alan Lawrie's Saturn V Rocket

Sacramento's Rocket Men: A Photographic Record 50 years After the Moon Landing
2019, Self-published.

Alan returns his attention to documenting and recognizing the the men and woman who contributed to the Space Race working at the Douglas Aircraft Company's Missile Test Facility, also also known as the Sacramento Test Operations site or SACTO. Over the course of 12 years, Alan made multiple visits to this former Saturn rocket test site and got to know a group of SACTO retirees who still live in the area.

Many of these retirees had saved photographs, largely unseen by the general public, from their work at the site. The include photos which were taken by Douglas' official site photographer, Art Newman, who recorded site events and personnel and served as the site photographer throughout the Saturn era.

Alan has identified and organized these photos for this book, an impressive, 600-page hard-cover volume consisting of 1,033 color and B&W photos.

Alan has also written a number of magazine articles and technical papers:

Magazine Articles  
"Space at East Fortune." Spaceflight, Vol. 21 No. 11, November 1979
"Space Stations in Formation." Spaceflight, Vol. 29 No. 6, June 1987
"Visiting Arlington." Spaceflight, Vol. 38 No. 8, August 1996
"A Chequered Path to Success." Spaceflight, Vol. 46 No. 6, June 2004
"Detective Work Identifies Museum’s Rocket Engine." Spaceflight, Vol. 47 No. 9, September 2005
"Secrets of the Saturn V." Boeing Employee Times, November 2005
"When Skylab Was Still a Rocket." Spaceflight, Vol. 48 No. 2, February 2006
"Problems on the Way to the Moon." Spaceflight, Vol. 49 No. 12, December 2007
"Bizarre Test of the First Saturn V." Spaceflight, Vol. 50 No. 2, February 2008
"Rocket Fuel." Spaceflight, Vol. 50 No. 3, March 2008
"Anniversary of Saturn Rocket’s First Test Firing." Spaceflight, Vol. 52 No. 7, July 2010
"Identifying Saturn F-1 Engines After 40 years – Part 1." Spaceflight, Vol. 52 No. 8, August 2010
"Identifying Saturn F-1 Engines After 40 years – Part 2." Spaceflight, Vol. 52 No. 9, September 2010
"Lessons Learnt from Ground Testing the Saturn Family of Rockets." CEAS Space Journal, Vol. 4 Nos. 1-4, 2013
"Pictures of Bygone Glory." Spaceflight, Vol. 57 No. 8, August 2015
"Saturn V F-1 Parts Retrieved." Spaceflight, Vol. 58 No. 6, June 2016
Technical Papers  
"The Saturn V Rocket: A New Review of Manufacturing, Testing, and Logistics." AIAA 2006-5031, July 2006
"Return to Sacramento: A Review of Saturn Rocket Firings and Explosions." AIAA 2007-5343, July 2007

Alan is also, indirectly, responsible for this Website: Although I had been taking aerospace photos for several years when I met Alan at the AIAA's "Space50" technical symposium in February, 2008, had settled on a name for a Website, and had been telling people that I was going to make a Website soon, actually starting a Website always seemed to be a "some day" type of thing.

After several months of trying to exchange files via email, I finally decided that I needed a better way to send material to Alan and on August 15, 2008, I purchased the domain name and my first hosting plan, establishing heroicrelics on the Web. Alan made his first direct contribution the day the Website went live, noting that August 15 was the 50th anniversary of the authorization of the Saturn program. That prompted me to locate a copy of ARPA Order No. 14-59, which became the first actual content on heroicrelics.