The Saturn IB was originally used to launch Apollo lunar spacecraft into Earth orbit, to train for manned flights to the Moon. The first launch of a Saturn IB with an unmanned Apollo spacecraft took place in February 1966. A Saturn IB launched the first manned Apollo flight, Apollo 7, on October 11, 1968.
After the completion of the Apollo program, the Saturn IB launched three missions to man the Skylab space station in 1973. In 1975 it launched the American crew for the Apollo/Soyuz Test Project, the joint U.S./Soviet Union docking mission.
Saturn IB was 69 meters (223 feet) tall with the Apollo spacecraft and developed 7.1 million newtons (1.6 million pounds) of thrust at liftoff.
In most respects, the new S-IB first-stage booster retained the size and shape of its S-I predecessor. The upper area was modified to take the larger-diameter and heavier S-IVB upper stage, and the aerodynamic fins were redesigned for the longer and heavier vehicle. The Saturn IB mounted its eight H-I engines in the same cluster pattern as the Saturn I, although successive improvements raised the total thrust of each engine to 890 000 newtons (200 000 pounds) and then to 912 000 newtons (205 000 pounds). The thrust increase raised the overall performance of the Saturn IB; the performance was further enhanced by cutting some 9000 kilograms of weight from the stage cluster. A more compact fin design accounted for part of the reduction, along with modifications to the propellant tanks, spider beam, and other components and removal of various tubes and brackets no longer required.
The Saturn I upper stage (the S-IV) used a cluster of six engines, but the Saturn IB and Saturn V upper stages (designated the S-IVB for both versions) possessed a larger diameter and mounted a single engine of different design. The single-engine S-IVB became the real veteran of the Saturn program, active in more launches than any other stage.
Mission planners at NASA saw a means to accelerate the Apollo program by using the high-energy S-IVB stage of the C-1B to launch manned, Earth-orbital missions with a full-scale Apollo spacecraft. The new vehicle, launched with the instrument unit (IU) segment used on the C-1, also provided opportunities to refine the maneuvers for the lunar missions. The NASA announcement of the C-1B on 11 July 1962 included word that lunar orbit rendezvous (LOR) was the technique chosen for the manned lunar landing missions with the Saturn C-5 launch vehicle. The S-IVB, with its capability for heavier payloads and reignition for translunar injection, was an important element of the LOR scheme. The C-1B offered a fruitful method to try out the critical transposition maneuver, docking of the command and service modules (CSM) and the lunar module (LM), and the translunar sequence of the S-IVB upper stage.
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