The F-1 engine — the most powerful single-nozzle, liquid fueled rocket engine ever developed — boosted the Saturn V rocket off the launch pad and onto the moon during NASA’s Apollo program during the 1960s and 1970.
Five F-1 engines were used in the 138-foot-tallS-IC, or first stage, of each Saturn V, which depended on the five-engine cluster for the 7.5 million pounds of thrust needed to lift it from the launch pad. The mighty engines, developed by engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and its industry team, were fueled by a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene.
The cluster of five F-1 engines burned more than 15 metric tons of propellant per second during its two-and-one-half-minutes of operation. Each F-1 engine had more thrust than three space shuttle main engines combined to lift the vehicle to a height of about 36 miles and to a speed of about 6,000 mph.
The F-1 engine had roots outside NASA, born as an Air Force program developed by the aerospace firm Rocketdyne in 1955. NASA inherited it during a transfer of projects, conducted its own feasibility studies and awarded Rocketdyne a follow-on contract to step up work on the gargantuan propulsion system not long after NASA’s formation, in 1960.