111: Height of Saturn V rocket in metres
On 16 July 1969, in the early hours of the morning, JoAnn Morgan drove into the parking lot at Pad 39a, Cape Canaveral, to oversee the fuelling of the giant Saturn V rocket. Against the darkness of the ocean behind, the spacecraft was bathed in the light of xenon arc lamps and enveloped in clouds of oxygen venting from the fuel tanks.
“It was an absolutely majestic sight,” says Morgan. “I stood out in the parking lot and watched it for a while because it was just so beautiful.”
At 36 storeys high, the Saturn V ranks as one of the greatest technical and engineering achievements of the 20th Century. Its development was led by Wernher von Braun who, even while building V2 rockets for Hitler, dreamed of building a rocket to carry men to the Moon.
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“Not only was he technically competent,” says Jay Honeycutt, a rocket engineer and later senior manager at Nasa, “but he had great leadership skills and a great ability to communicate with government officials who funded the projects.”