Dr Wernher von Braun



“I have learned to use the word impossible with great caution.”
– Dr Wernher von Braun.

Dr Wernher von Braun

Who designed and built it?

The Saturn V rocket was designed by Dr Wernher von Braun. It was built under his direction when he worked for NASA.

  • Born: 23rd March 1912, Germany.
  • Died: 16th June 1977, USA.
  • Career: Dr Wernher von Braun was a German engineer and scientist. He worked for the Germans during World War II (1939-1945). After the war he went to the USA to work for the Army and then for NASA.
  • Dr Wernher von Braun is considered by some to be the most important rocket engineer of the 20th century.

“I have learned to use the word impossible with great caution.” – Dr Wernher von Braun.

The main parts of the Saturn V rocket

The Saturn V rocket was made up of three main parts, known as ‘stages’. Each stage would burn its engines until it was out of fuel and would then separate from the rocket. The engines on the next stage would fire, and the rocket would continue into space.

  • The first stage had five engines that were needed to lift the rocket off the ground fast enough to escape Earth’s gravity.
  • The second stage also had five engines that were needed to carry the rocket almost into orbit.
  • The third stage had just one engine that powered the Apollo spacecraft into orbit and pushed it towards the Moon.

The main parts of the Apollo spacecraft

The Apollo spacecraft sat on top of the Saturn V, ready to be launched into space. It was made up of three main parts, known as modules:

  • The Command Module – this was the control centre for the spacecraft. It was also where the astronauts lived on their journey to the Moon. It was code-named ‘Columbia’.
  • The Service Module – this contained oxygen and water. It also provided electric power and contained a powerful engine to put the spacecraft into orbit around the Moon.
  • The Lunar Module – this was a spidery-looking vehicle that was built to land the astronauts on the surface of the Moon. It was code-named ‘Eagle’.

Learning resources

Example questions

  • How tall was the Saturn V rocket?

  • What was The Space Race?

  • Which American President began the Apollo Program?

  • Who designed the Saturn V rocket?

  • Why did the first stage of the Saturn V rocket need five engines?

  • Name the three modules of the Apollo spacecraft.

  • On what date was the Apollo 11 mission launched?

  • Name the three astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission.

  • What were Armstrong’s words as he first walked on the Moon?

  • Tell me a fun fact about the Saturn V or the Apollo 11 mission.

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