S-IVB (Saturn V) Overview

The S-IVB, the third stage of the Saturn V rocket, was the one of the largest liquid hydrogen stages produced in the 1960s. Equipped with one J-2 rocket engine, it produced about 225,000 pounds of thrust. It was 21 feet 8 inches in diameter and 58 feet 8 inches high.

Saturn V Third S-IVB Stage (S-IVB-503N) diagram

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From the front cover of the Saturn 503 Design Certification Review, S-IVB Stage, located in the Thomson collection at the Dept. of Archives/Special Collections, M. Louis Salmon Library, University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Scan by heroicrelics.org.

Structurally, the S-IVB stage consisted of

Saturn V Third S-IVB Stage Exploded View Diagram

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From page 16 of the Saturn S-IVB Training Graphics: Systems Familiarization, Saturn V (Revised October 1967), located in the Mauldin collection at the Dept. of Archives/Special Collections, M. Louis Salmon Library, University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Scan and reconstruction by heroicrelics.org.

Having exploded the S-IVB stage in the diagram above, here we will put it back together here in this manufacturing flow sequence diagram.

Saturn V Third S-IVB Stage Manufacturing Flow Sequence

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Adapted from page 4 of the Saturn Third Stage, S-IVB Manufacturing. Located in the Saturn V Collection, Dept. of Archives/Special Collections, M. Louis Salmon Library, University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Scan and adaptation by heroicrelics.org.

You might consider this a do-it-yourself guide, perhaps "how to build an S-IVB stage in 31 easy steps."

  • Fabricate dome segments
  • Weld dome segments
  • Repeat for each of
    • Forward dome
    • Forward common bulkhead
    • Aft common bulkhead
    • Aft dome
  • Assemble common bulkhead
  • Assemble LOX tank
  • Fabricate LH2 tank skins
  • Weld LH2 tank
  • Assemble tank
  • Hydrostatic test; degrease
  • Fabricate insulation tiles
  • Insulate tank
  • Internal installation
  • Electrical fabrication & installation
  • Fabricate & assemble forward skirt
  • Fabricate & assemble aft skirt
  • Fabricate & assemble thrust structure
  • Join skirt assemblies & thrust structure
  • Receive Rocketdyne engine
  • Install engine
  • Paint; weigh
  • Load on transporter
  • Fabricate & assemble auxilliary propulsion system
  • Load on barge; ship to Sacramento
  • Test fire at SACTO
  • Fabricate & assemble aft interstage
  • Barge to Seal Beach; load aft interstage; ship to KSC
  • Assemble at KSC

This cut-away diagram shows the major structural elements assembled into the final stage.

Saturn V Third S-IVB Stage Structural Cutaway

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From page 15 of the Saturn S-IVB Training Graphics: Systems Familiarization, Saturn V (Revised October 1967), located in the Mauldin collection at the Dept. of Archives/Special Collections, M. Louis Salmon Library, University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Scan and restoration by heroicrelics.org.

Another cut-away diagram showing the major structural elements assembled into the final stage, while at the same time showing the interior of stage subassemblies:

Saturn V Third S-IVB Stage cut-away diagram with callouts

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From an unnumbered page at the beginning of Section 5 of the Saturn V News Reference, located in the Dept. of Archives/Special Collections, M. Louis Salmon Library, University of Alabama in Huntsville. Also available on the mirror as a 4.1 megabyte PDF.
Scan by heroicrelics.org.

Note the ambient helium spheres, used by the propellant pressurization system.