You read the headline correctly: NASA is giving away an Apollo-era Saturn I rocket to anyone who wants it, provided they front the $250,000 cost to transport it.
In other news: I am happy to announce that I am starting a GoFundMe campaign to move an Apollo-era Saturn I rocket into my backyard.
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According to a report by CNET:
According to documents and emails obtained by CNET, MSFC “has excessed a Saturn 1 Block 1 Booster portion of a Saturn rocket stack up.”
The booster is the bottom or first stage of the Saturn I, which was the United States’ first heavy-lift rocket, developed in the early 1960s. It was the more massive fifth version, or Saturn V, that would send Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their trip to the moon in 1969.
Of course, this piece of hardware never saw any action. Had it been launched, it would have been discarded somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
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The Saturn I preceded both the Saturn 1B (the first Apollo rocket to put humans in space) and the Saturn V (the first rocket that took humans to the moon). The Visitor’s Center at Kennedy Space Center in Florida has a Saturn 1B on display in their rocket garden.
(That little white tent-looking thing at the pointy end is a mockup of an actual Apollo-era capsule. Photo credit: me)
NASA actually has a lot of hardware leftover from Apollo and even the Shuttle era. Something that surprised me on my first visit inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center was that they still have hardware platforms that were used in the 60s and 70s to build the Apollo-class rockets.
We asked why they were still there, and the answer was rather simple – Because there’s no reason to move them. Unless they need to use the space, or someone is buying them, there’s no reason to spend resources on clearing them out.
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If you’re a school or museum official, you can start the process of obtaining artifacts from NASA by completing their pre-screening form on their website.