Back to the future with Saturn's F-1


Judging by the frequent comparisons made between today's commercial crew contenders and the capsules and lifting body designs of the past, it seems the space industry experiences more than its fair share of déjà vu. But if you'd have asked any of the NSS show goers just a few years ago to give the odds on seeing a major piece of heritage Apollo-era propulsion hardware on display in 2013 as part of an active program you would have attracted some odd looks. Yet standing in the main NSS exhibit hall on the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne stand this year is the impressive -- and freshly tested -- Saturn F-1 Mk 10 turbopump.

Heritage hardware on the PWR stand (Guy Norris)

A testament to the outstanding engineering triumph of the Saturn V rocket, and the Apollo program in general, PWR also hopes it could be a bellwether for things to come in NASA's Space Launch System. A modernized F-1B version is in development as a potential contender for the SLS Advanced Booster, and a generation of young engineers barely old enough to remember early shuttle flights let alone Apollo, are using heritage equipment as part of the testing. Like everything else about Apollo, the stats on this beast make for impressive reading:

Propellants: LOX/RP-1

Flowrate (GPM) 25,100/45,600

Horsepower (BHP) 28,700/19,780

Speed (RPM) 5,190

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