USSRC Saturn V Restoration
The Huntsville Saturn V sat in the Rocket Park since literally before the Space & Rocket Center (the "Alabama Space & Rocket Center", back then) opened; the USSRC at one time had an exhibit featuring photos of the Saturn V being moved to the grounds while the main museum was still under construction.
With the Kennedy and Johnson Saturn Vs in climate-controlled buildings, by spring of 2005, it was time for the USSRC to preserve their Saturn (be sure to click the "click for more photos" link at the bottom).
We actually found out about the USSRC preservation effort by accident, as the Saturn V was being worked on during our June 2005 visit. We wound up visiting four more times while the preservation was underway, including the groundbreaking for the Saturn V Center (as it was called back then) and the most dramatic part of the preservation, the Saturn V's move into its new home, an event dubbed "Rocket Roll."
We learned that the Saturn V would be moved during the 2006 Saturn/Apollo Reunion, and were told that the entire process should only take three or four days. Right then, I knew I would have to be present for the move -- I never got to witness a Saturn V move, being too young to remember any of the launches.
It's about an 11½ hour drive to the USSRC. While we drove down the day before the move was scheduled to start, I didn't really know what the move would entail or when what would move, so I wanted to get to the USSRC before it closed yet that day so I could photograph it one last time in its traditional location. This involved getting up in time to be driving by 4:00 am. My wife proved her love and devotion to me (or her own insanity) by indulging me in this request on our wedding anniversary!
The move was scheduled to begin on July 10, which wound up being a very rainy day and, as it turned out, the beginning of a very rainy week. Luckily, the USSRC had rented a tent, and the tent stayed up the entire week, protecting those of us who had come to see the Saturn's move.
There was a short ceremony before the move which included audio from the Apollo 11 countdown and culminated in a simulated launch, complete with smoke belching from the S-IC's F-1 engines.
It was originally planned to have all three stages of the Saturn in the Davidson Center by Friday, July 13. However, the rain hampered the move, and the S-IC didn't roll into the building until Wednesday the 11th.
While the S-IC was moved still sitting in the transporter originally designed to move it, the S-II instead sat in the Rocket Park in a smaller cradle apparently designed for its display. When the contractors tried moving it on July 12, the cradle proved inadequate to steady the stage. They spent the rest of the day (plus a good chunk of the night) shoring up the cradle and were finally able to move the second stage on the morning of Friday, July 13. The S-IVB was moved into the building some time later, after we left for home.