SPACE HISTORY: Legacy of Apollo 6 Still Remembered 51 Years Later

By  //  April 5, 2019

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Apollo 6 lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center

The final uncrewed launch of the Saturn V with the Apollo spacecraft, Apollo 6 lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center but experienced challenges from the start. (NASA Image)

(NASA) – “Pretty exciting day.” That’s how Flight Dynamics Officer Jay H. Greene described his shift on April 4, 1968, when he was working the problem-ridden flight of Apollo 6.

The final uncrewed launch of the Saturn V with the Apollo spacecraft, Apollo 6 lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center but experienced challenges from the start.

Two minutes into the flight, the large Saturn V began oscillating back and forth, a phenomenon called the “pogo effect.” Then, during the S-IVB second stage burn, two of the five engines shut down prematurely, forcing the other three engines to compensate.

To add to the troubles, the third stage engines failed to restart following stage separation. Still, the Command Module performed well despite re-entering at a lower than planned speed.

“Pretty exciting day.” That’s how Flight Dynamics Officer Jay H. Greene described his shift on this day (April 4) in 1968 when he was working the problem-ridden flight of Apollo 6. (NASA image)

The issues were addressed before the next Saturn V flight, Apollo 8 — humanity’s first voyage to another world. (The crew of Apollo 7 launched on a Saturn IB for their Earth orbital mission).

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