The uncrewed Saturn/Apollo
4, or AS-501, mission was the first all-up test of the three-stage
Saturn V rocket. It carried a payload of an Apollo Command and
Service Module, or CSM, into Earth orbit. The mission was designed
to test all aspects of the Saturn V launch vehicle and also returned
pictures of Earth taken by the automatic Command Module apogee
camera from about one hour before to one hour after apogee.
Mission objectives included
testing of structural integrity, compatibility of launch vehicle
and spacecraft, heat shield and thermal seal integrity, overall
reentry operations, launch loads and dynamic characteristics,
stage separation, launch vehicle subsystems, the emergency detection
system and mission support facilities and operations. The mission
was deemed a successful test.
Orbital insertion was achieved by ignition of the third (S-IVB)
stage, putting the spacecraft -- S-IVB and CSM -- into a 184 x
192-kilometer (114 x 119-mile) parking orbit with a period of
88.2 minutes and an inclination of 32.6 degrees. After two orbits,
the S-IVB was re-ignited for a simulated translunar injection
burn, putting the spacecraft into an Earth-intersecting trajectory
with an apogee of 17,346 kilometers (10,778 miles.)
The S-IVB stage then
separated from the CSM, and the service propulsion system, or
SPS, ignited for 16 seconds, raising the apogee to 18,216 kilometers
(11,319 miles.) Later, the SPS was re-ignited for 271 seconds
to accelerate the CSM to beyond lunar trajectory return velocities.
SPS cutoff was followed by separation of the Command Module from
the Service Module and orientation of the Command Module for reentry.
Atmospheric entry at
122 kilometers (75.8 miles) occurred at a flight-path angle of
7.077 degrees with a velocity of 11,140 meters per second (24,919
miles per hour.) The Command Module landed near Hawaii at 20:37
UT 9 Nov. 1967 about 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) from the target