The scientific tourist #107 — the F-1 rocket engine

The F-1 rocket engine was built to power the first stage of the Saturn V for Apollo, and still holds the crown of being the most powerful single-chamber liquid-fueled rocket engine ever built, so I thought I’d gather up a collection of pictures I’ve taken of F-1s in various places on my travels. First, one laid down for easy access at the New Mexico Museum of Space History:

The engine itself is on the right, while the nozzle extension is sitting separately over on the left. The nozzle extension was basically a dumb (if highly engineered) piece of metal, used to increase the thrust from the engine. At the base of the engine itself you can just make out the tapered plumbing that injected the (relatively cool) turbopump exhaust into the nozzle just ahead of the extension — cooling it so it wouldn’t melt in flight.

Next, I’ve got two shots from the Johnson Space Center’s rocket garden — first, one comparing an F-1 to a replica of the rocket that first took a U.S. astronaut into space (you might recall this image got its own scientific tourist post a while back):

The thing that always amazes me about this shot is that the Mercury Redstone rocket and F-1 engine are near-contemporaries — the F-1 was well into its development when Alan Shepard took his flight.

Next, a shot of the business end of a Saturn V — showing five F-1s installed in the first stage of the JSC Saturn V:

The business end of a Saturn V

Of course, this shot also had its own scientific tourist post a while back…

Finally, a newly uplinked (but fairly old) shot from the Kennedy Space Center rocket garden, with an obliging 3 year-old for scale:

An F-1 rocket engine in the KSC rocket garden

That’s the turbopump on the upper right, in this shot you can better see how its exhaust plumbing snakes around the top of the nozzle extension about a third of the way up the stack.

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