The sign accompanying the engine. It reads
Rocketdyne LR79 Rocket Engine
The LR79 rocket engine was a reliable workhorse for US Air Force space and
missile launches between 1958 and 1980. This liquid-fueled engine powered Jupiter and Thor intermediate range ballistic missiles
(IRBMs), Juno II satellite
boosters, and Saturn I and IB rockets used in the Apollo,
Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz programs. Also
known by its civilian designation S-3D, it delivered 150,000
pounds of thrust using kerosene and super-chilled liquid oxygen fuel.
Rocketdyne developed the basic S-3 engine in 1955-56 for the US
Army. In 1956, Jupiter
became an important Air Force missile when the USAF gained responsibility for
all ballistic missiles with ranges of more than 200 miles. An S-3 engine
powered a Jupiter on the first
successful American IRBM test flight on May 3, 1957. In 1959, a Jupiter launched from Cape
Canaveral, Florida, took two monkeys named Able and Baker on a 16-minute,
1,700-mile sub-orbital ride to an altitude of 360 miles. They were the first
living beings successfully recovered after a space flight.
The S-3 engine design was refined and evolved into the S-3D that was used on
later Jupiter, Thor, and
Juno II satellite launchers between 1958 and 1962. A cluster of eight improved
versions of the S-3D engine became the first-stage propulsion for NASA's Saturn I and Saturn IB in the late 1960s and
This sign seems to try to take a bit too much credit; the S-3D was uprated and
substantially simplified to
create the H-1
rocket engine which powered the Saturn I and Saturn IB rockets.
Also, the Jupiter was an Army missile, developed by Wernher von Braun's team at
the Redstone Arsenal as a follow-up to the Redstone missile. The Air Force
didn't want the Jupiter, which had similar performance and capabilities as the
Thor missile that they were developing. A 1956 decision by the Secretary of
Defense ordered that the Air Force would be responsible for all missiles with a
range in excess of 200 miles.
Development on Jupiter was well ahead of Thor, so development on both missiles
was continued to ensure that the U.S. would have at least one IRBM (should
either the Army or Air Force run into difficulties). Eventually, a commission
was formed to decide which missile would survive and be deployed. The Soviets
launched Sputnik before
the commission could render a decision, and in the post-Sputnik panic, it was
decided that both missiles would be deployed.