Press Release

NASA Sets Ground Opening July 20 for Restored Saturn V Rocket

By SpaceRef Editor
July 10, 2007
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HOUSTON — NASA’s Johnson Space Center will host the grand opening of a restored Houston landmark and national treasure, the immense Saturn V rocket resting at the space center gate, on July 20, 38 years to the day after men first walked on the moon.

The 30-story tall rocket is part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum collection and one of only three such rockets in existence. Media are invited to attend a ribbon cutting for the facility at 11:30 a.m.

Speakers at the event will include astronauts and moonwalkers John Young and Alan Bean as well as astronauts Walt Cunningham, who flew on the Apollo 7 flight in earth orbit, and Joe Kerwin, who flew in an Apollo spacecraft to the Skylab space station. Apollo-era flight director Chris Kraft, National Air and Space Museum curator Allen Needell, and JSC Center Director Mike Coats also will participate.

Interviews to take place at the ceremony should be arranged in advance by contacting Debbie Sharp at 281/483-4942.

The Saturn V facility will open to the public July 21. On that day, NASA representatives will be on hand from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer questions about the Saturn V as well as NASA’s Constellation Program to return humans to the moon. Beginning July 22, the facility will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Saturn V is one of the largest and most significant artifacts in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum collection. It has been on loan to Johnson since 1977. The Saturn V remains the most powerful rocket ever built, and it was launched 13 times from 1967 to 1973. Eight of the missions it launched traveled to the moon, and six landed there. The final Saturn V launch in 1973 put Skylab, America’s first space station, in orbit.

The Saturn V at Johnson had been exposed to the elements for more than 20 years while on display. The exposure had caused extensive corrosion and degradation. In 1999, the National Air and Space Museum applied for a grant to preserve the rocket through the Save America’s Treasures Program, the centerpiece of the White House National Millennium Commemoration. For the preservation, the museum received funds from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Houston Endowment, Halliburton and other sources. Matching funds were provided by the National Park Service.

The goal was to return the rocket to a condition matching as closely as possible the way it would have appeared on the launch pad. The project team erected a climate-controlled building to house the rocket, designed and executed a testing program to evaluate the effectiveness of cleaning and repair treatments, developed a data management system for recording and retrieving information gathered, and stabilized and conserved the Saturn V to arrest its deterioration and make it suitable for display. The restoration ensures the Saturn V will remain on exhibit to inform and inspire many generations of visitors to come. The preservation work was performed by Conservation Solutions, Inc. of Washington, D.C.

For more information about NASA’s plans to return to the moon, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.