NASA model of Saturn-Shuttle configuration
FunctionCrewed LEO launch vehicle
ManufacturerBoeing (S-IC)
Martin Marietta (External Tank)
Rockwell International (Space Shuttle orbiter)
Country of originUnited States
Height86 m (281 ft)[1]
Diameter10 m (33 ft)[1]
Mass2,300,000 kg (5,070,000 lb)[1]
Payload to LEO
Mass60,500 kg (133,400 lb)[1]
Launch history
Launch sitesKennedy LC-39
First stage – S-IC
Height137.99 ft (42.06 m)[1]
Diameter33 ft (10 m)[1]
Empty mass298,104 lb (135,218 kg)[1]
Gross mass5,040,245 lb (2,286,217 kg)[1]
Powered by5 Rocketdyne F-1[1]
Maximum thrust8,700,816 lbf (38,703.16 kN)[1]
Specific impulse304 seconds (2.98 km/s)[1]
Burn time161 s[1]
Second stage – External Tank
Height153.8 ft (46.9 m)[1]
Diameter27.5 ft (8.4 m)[1]
Empty mass65,980 lb (29,930 kg)[1]
Gross mass1,655,616 lb (750,975 kg)[1]
Specific impulse455 seconds (4.46 km/s)[1]
Burn time480 s[1]
PropellantLH2 / LOX[1]
Second stage – Orbiter plus External Tank
Powered by3 SSMEs located on Orbiter[1]
Maximum thrust5,250 kN (1,180,000 lbf)[1]
Specific impulse455 seconds (4.46 km/s)[1]
Burn time480 s[1]
PropellantLH2 / LOX[1]

The Saturn-Shuttle was a preliminary concept of launching the Space Shuttle orbiter using a modified version of the first stage of the Saturn V rocket.[1] It was studied and considered in 1971–1972.[2]


An interstage would be fitted on top of the S-IC stage to support the external tank in the space occupied by the S-II stage in the Saturn V. It was an alternative to the SRBs.[1]

The addition of wings (and some form of landing gear) on the S-IC stage would allow the booster to fly back to the Kennedy Space Center, where technicians would then refurbish the booster (by replacing only the five F-1 engines and reusing the tanks and other hardware for later flights).[1]

The Shuttle would handle space station logistics, while the Saturn V would launch components.

This would have allowed the International Space Station, using a Skylab or Mir configuration with both U.S. and Russian docking ports, to have been lifted with just a handful of launches. The Saturn-Shuttle concept also would have eliminated the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters that ultimately precipitated the Space Shuttle Challenger accident in 1986.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "Saturn Shuttle". Archived from the original on October 27, 2016. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
  2. ^ Lindroos, Marcus (June 15, 2001). "Phase B' Shuttle contractor studies 1971". Introduction to Future Launch Vehicle Plans [1963-2001] – via PMView.

Further reading