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Fourth Annual Saturn/Apollo Reunion (2007) Gallery

Bill Gurley

Bill Gurley gave an update on the Saturn V restoration efforts:

I'm very proud to note that there are over 800 people here for the Fourth Annual Saturn/Apollo Reunion. We only had 500 or 600 chairs, so I think somebody had to use mine.

I feel like the middle-man tonight. I am the chairman the Saturn V Restoration Committee, and I feel like I'm kind of caught between generations. I'm 58 years old, so I'm just past middle age. [chuckles] We have a couple of the old guys here, who flew Apollo, did Skylab, and did stuff like that, and then you've got the young guys, like Halsell and Cook over there, who fly the shuttle ... [interrupted by Jim Halsell] .. huh? Yeah, I said the "young guys" [laughter] who fly the shuttle and build the space station. My generation, when peace broke out, didn't do anything. I was just in the middle -- that's all there is to it.

Fifth-three years ago, Huntsville, Alabama, underwent a long transformation from a sleepy little Alabama town that mostly raised cotton to the birthplace of space travel for this nation. Four years earlier, Redstone Arsenal had been for sale -- there was a "for sale" sign on Redstone Arsenal!

In 1950, Dr. Wernher von Braun brought a team of rocket scientists to Huntsville from Germany that would, in less than two decades, and with the help of a host of Alabamians from every county, and other workers from across this great nation totalling somewhere in the neighborhood of 250,000 to 400,000, depending on where you get your count, would design, build, test, and launch the vehicle that would take mankind to the moon.

This would be, without a doubt, the most complex and significant technological achievement the world had seen. In the vernacular of today's Discovery Channel, this was the world's truly "extreme machine."

Standing taller than a 30-story building, about 360 feet, we are told that the primary reason the first stage is 33 feet in diameter is because the width of the door of the building in which it was built at Redstone Arsenal was 35 feet. [laughter] That was no accident, the way it was designed. [laughter]

It launched the Saturn V, which weighed over 6 million pounds, and when fully fueled it was 7 3/4" shorter than when it was unfueled -- I guess that's like most of us after we eat, right? [laughter]

Each of those five F-1 engines of the first stage created, as Jim said earlier, over 1 1/2 million pounds of thrust for a total of 7 1/2 million pounds of thrust for those 6.5 million pounds. The first stage burned for only 2 1/2 minutes, right under 156 seconds, to achieve an altitude of 38 miles and a velocity of 5800 miles per hour.

In this 156 seconds, the Saturn V first stage consumed 4 1/2 million pounds of fuel -- kerosene and liquid oxygen. This is 30,000 pounds of fuel per second, and therefore each of the five engines was consuming about 6,000 pounds -- about three tons -- of fuel per second. That's awesome.

Buzz Aldrin, my honorary co-chair for the Saturn V Restoration Committee, and an Apollo 11 astronaut who landed on the moon in 1969, has a PhD from MIT in physics. He said he once calculated the fuel economy of the Apollo/Saturn V. It was approximately one gallon per foot. [laughter] That's 5,280 gallons per mile, or slightly less than two ten-thousands of a mile per gallon. [laughter] It is the largest, most powerful, most reliable, and most successful and safe launch vehicle ever built. And today we have the pleasure of knowing that the world's first Saturn V, that once rested on its side in the yard out here, has now been moved to its permanent new home in the Davidson Saturn V Center. [applause]

Those of you who've seen it should recognize it doesn't have its final coat of paint on it. It didn't just kind of rub right off -- there was a great cloud of dust out there as the guys got to it in the last few months, and we're going to repaint it in the building.

But, thanks to the passionate efforts of a large group of dedicated volunteers and donors, as well as through the large crowd of somewhat aging rocketeers -- rocket boys, rocket girls -- and visitors here tonight, there will soon be a new, beautiful, identifiable icon on I-565 in Huntsville, Alabama. My guess is that there's going to be some wrecks out there from people rubbernecking. [laughter]

In its restored condition, and in its new, environmentally controlled facility, it will forever proclaim Huntsville as the Rocket City of America and Alabama (as our new Saturn V car tag says) quote, "First to the Moon and Beyond." By the way, Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers have their restored Saturn Vs and can say this, too, but only ours can lay claim to the title of the world's first Saturn V rocket and a National Historic Landmark.

It was the pinnacle of rocketry achievement in the Space Race with the former Soviet Union. It was the pride of a great nation that had the will and the resources to accept such a monumental challenge and excel in its achievement. But all we know is that the Rocket City never rests. The sky is not the limit for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

The story continues with the shuttle, International Space Station, and now the new space exploration challenge to return to the lunar surface in preparation for a manned mission to Mars.

Thanks so much from a grateful Saturn V Restoration Committee for your overwhelming support of the project and a very special thanks to Dorothy and Julian Davidson. Please stand. [applause]

Please accept our heart-felt thanks. We are so proud and honored to thank you for making a contribution to our Saturn V restoration project.

I now am pleased to introduce our next speaker, Mr. Jim Halsell. Jim is a distinguished Air Force pilot, an Academy graduate, and has logged over 1,250 hours in space. He has piloted three shuttle flights and has commanded an additional two flights [his NASA bio states that he actually piloted two and commanded three flights]. Halsell was also served as NASA Director of Operations at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Star City, Russia prior to a position of Manager of Shuttle Launch Integration and Space Flight, Halsell now resides here in Huntsville and is currently Vice President and Program Manager of the Ares Upper Stage at ATK Systems.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Halsell.

Bill Gurley speaking at the Fourth Annual Saturn/Apollo Reunion (2007) at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Time picture taken Fri Jul 13 19:34:50 2007
File name dsc39630.jpg
Location picture taken Space Camp Cafeteria
US Space & Rocket Center
Huntsville, AL
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