Saturn-V for Dummies Part-5: Conclusion The Dynamic Frequency

A conclusion is simply the place where you get tired of thinking 

~ Dan Chaon, Stay Awake

Hello all, Happy Basant Panchami, and welcome to the final blog of this series, where I will try to answer some frequently asked questions about the mighty Saturn-V and the moon missions in general. The previous 4 articles were about the history, engineering, engines, and missions of the rocket (highly recommended going through them, please give them a read). I tried to cover the rocket from every possible angle in all four with a generalized approach. But today I shall be concluding this series, but is it the end? Watch me answer this question and more as you read and scroll.

Conclusion: Or is it the end?

Let’s start with the questions:

Q: What happened to the Saturn-V?

Saturn-V for Dummies Part-5: Conclusion The Dynamic Frequency
Apollo module docking with the Skylab

A: Saturn-V has not flown since May 14, 1973, as it retired after the last Skylab mission which I covered in detail in the "Missions" blog. Make sure to check it out for more information.

Q: Why did the Saturn-V retire?

Saturn-V for Dummies Part-5: Conclusion The Dynamic Frequency

A: There are several valid reasons for the US govt and NASA to retire the Saturn-V rocket. Some of them are; cost. It cost around a 47billion USD in 10 years for 13 launches, which boils down to around 3.6 billion USD per launch, and from this figure, if you subtract the developmental cost, it will cost merely 1.2 billion USD per launch. Another reason is pay cut. The govt. decided to restrict the budget of NASA which resulted in stopping further production of the rocket and the rest got distributed among space museums for display and study for the common people. NASA with the restricted budget shifted its focus to the Space Shuttle Program.

Q: Was moon landing fake?

Saturn-V for Dummies Part-5: Conclusion The Dynamic Frequency

A: There has been a particular school of people who believe the moon landing was a fake act under the direction of NASA. Now look, normally I am not an advocate of violence but I believe these conspiracy theorists should be packed inside a mental asylum and beaten. These conspiracy theorists state several reasons and excuses for their belief, which are insane and baseless. If you need to prove it fake, then you need to prove that the whole world was lying about the moon landing as every space-faring country recorded the moon landing and had it confirmed. It’s utter disrespect to all those scientists, engineers, and several other people who made the moon mission possible. The straight answer is NO, the moon landing was NOT FAKE.

Q: Why haven’t humans returned to the moon since 1972?

Saturn-V for Dummies Part-5: Conclusion The Dynamic Frequency
China's Long March 9

A: This specific question can be divided into 2 separate questions; first, why hasn’t any American returned to the moon? And second, why hasn’t there been any other country to launch humans to the moon? The simple and generalized answer to both the questions is money and power. In the 1960s and 70s the cold war was going on, only 2 nations had such massive capital and engineering know-how to pull out this massive task of landing humans on the moon. So, this became a war whose outcome was crystal clear as Sir Neil Armstrong set his first foot on the moon. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US had no one to fight with and compete against, which led to a cut in NASA budget. But today, NASA is determined to land the first man of color and the first woman on the moon by 2023 with their massive SLS rocket. Talking about other countries, very few countries have a space research program, out of which if we deduct the US, Russia, and the EU, we are left with China which has a similar space budget as that of the States and they have plans for a manned moon flight with their super-heavy launch vehicle. So, although it has been a disappointment not to have watched the moon landing on TV back then, today, we are living in the best days of the space era and will soon watch humans land on the moon.

Q: Why is NASA using SLS for the Artemis program instead of Saturn-V which has been already tried and tested several times?

Saturn-V for Dummies Part-5: Conclusion The Dynamic Frequency
The SLS rocket with Orion Space Craft

A: Saturn-V is a marvel not because it was built in recent times, but because it was built back in the 1960s, whose technology is no match with today’s technology. Today one can 3d print rocket engines completely and even companies like Relativity are 3d printing entire rockets from top to bottom within days. But still, with those outdated methods, they achieved the impossible feat. Manufacturing a Saturn-V now will be costly first of all and the technology is obsolete now. The present SLS costs roughly one-eighth of what Saturn-V used to cost (500 million USD). Apart from that, we are living in an era of reusability and cost reduction, where SpaceX’s rocket-boosters can self-land, be refurbished, and reused again. Even the SLS feels obsolete against such rockets. So, it makes sense to make a better and cheaper rocket to land humans on the moon rather than building a whole new Saturn-V.

Q: Is it the end?

A: NO, Saturn-V’s legacy continues. No matter where you live or what your identity is, whether American or non-American, white or black or colored, male or female you need to feel proud that humanity has persevered and reached the moon only within seven decades after inventing the first flying machine. The dreams you think are impossible to achieve now, just remember that landing on the moon used to be a dream too but the dream saw the daylight with the help of sweat, tears, and blood of the innumerable.

Saturn-V for Dummies Part-5: Conclusion The Dynamic Frequency

I chose to explain the Saturn-V rocket because it teaches us that nothing is impossible and everything is achievable if we truly persevere for it. The legacy of this rocket inspires me more than any human that walked on earth. I won’t stop talking about the rocket. Though the future articles will focus on other topics, still there will be subtle references to the rocket. There’s more rocketry stuff pouring in with time, stay tuned. Once the next article is out, the link will be available here.

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To know the basics of the quantum world, astronomy and space exploration you can check out the book "Through the wormhole" on amazon kindle by Ratnadeep Das Choudhury.

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                                                                             -Ayushman Dash

                                                             Chief Space Exploration Writer
The Dynamic Frequency