Jets and Moon Rockets: 1957-1970

The Boeing Company ... On The Threshold of Space

In 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy committed America to landing a person on the moon before the end of the decade. Because Boeing president William Allen believed in the space program, he loaned 2,000 executives to NASA to coordinate activities. The Boeing Company then provided overall systems integration for the entire Apollo project. This endeavor proved that Boeing was a reliable manufacturer of space hardware and a coordinator of complicated systems.

At that time, the far side of the moon was a mystery. Boeing Lunar Orbiters circled the moon and sent photographs of its surface back to Earth so NASA could select safe landing sites for the astronauts. Boeing also built the Lunar Roving Vehicle that astronauts used to explore the moon on the last three Apollo missions. The Apollo-Saturn program was a massive representation of the power generated when The Boeing Company, McDonnell Douglas Corp. and North American Rockwell combined their efforts.

Boeing built the massive first S-1C stage of the Saturn V launch rocket. It was shipped by barge from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La., then placed on a block-long dolly and towed to the final assembly building at Cape Canaveral, Fla. There it was raised and made ready for the second stage, which was built by North American and had been shipped from California aboard the Point Barrow, a converted Navy landing ship.

The third stage, built by McDonnell Douglas, flew from Sacramento, Calif., aboard the Super Guppy, a swollen version of the Boeing Stratocruiser.

In addition, North American's Rocketdyne division built the five F-1 engines for the first stage, the J-2 engine for the second and third stage, the backup injector for the ascent engine of the Lunar Module, and the module's re-entry engines used for capsule repositioning. North American's Space and Information Systems division built the command and service modules and the launch escape subsystem.

The Boeing-built 138-foot-high S-1C first stage was the largest rocket booster produced in the United States. It could hurl 120-ton payloads into orbit around the Earth. Boeing made 13 S-1Cs for the Saturn Vs, one of which carried the McDonnell-built Skylab into space in 1973.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong told the world, "Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Humans had landed on the moon.

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