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U.S. Launches Saturn-1 Rocket

May 28, 1964 - America used its mighty 19-story Saturn-1 rocket today to orbit the world’s heaviest known spacecraft — an 8½-ton test model of the Apollo spaceships which it is hoped will carry astronauts to the moon by 1970. (Pictured below, NASA scientists await today’s launch.)

The super booster, which generates 1½ million pounds of thrust, set the spaceship on a path that will take it around the Earth every 88 minutes.

Today’s moonship is heavier by a ton than the largest of Russia’s Vostok spaceships.

The shot was a near-perfect opener of spaceflight tests for the lunar landing venture.

Scientists predicted the Apollo craft would circle the globe from 124 to 140 miles high for more than two days before burning up in a fiery plunge to Earth.

The first Apollo production model is set to fly in early 1966 atop a slightly more powerful Saturn-1B.

The first manned flight with a three-man Apollo, which will be orbital rehearsal for later moon missions, is expected in late 1966 or early 1967 with a Saturn-1B.

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