Designer & Artist: Liem Bahneman

Apollo 4 was the first uncrewed test flight of all three stages of the Saturn V launch vehicle; the rocket that would send the first astronauts to the Moon. Wernher von Braun was the chief architect of the Saturn V, and his philosophy was to test the first stage, then test the first and second stage, finally testing all three stages together – learning and iterating on each test before proceeding to the next test. George Miller, Wernher's boss, felt that in order to beat the Russians to the Moon before 1970, we needed to go "all-up" and test all three stages at once to jump-start the program. Apollo 4 was considered to be an "all-up flight test", testing all three stages of the rocket and a flight worthy Command and Service Module (CSM) along with a Lunar Test Article (LTA); a simulated Lunar Module (LM). This was the first time NASA assembled and launched the Saturn V at the Kennedy Space Center, testing a fully functional launch vehicle and spacecraft on its initial flight - another first. A LM was carried as ballast to test loading the launch vehicle. The CSM was placed into orbit around the Earth, making three orbits before reentering the Earth's atmosphere at high-speed to test a new heat shield. The command module splashed down in the North Pacific Ocean.

This was the first Apollo flight following the death of the Apollo 1 crew and a long 21 month delay, so when this mission was considered a complete success by NASA, it created much needed confidence in the program to successfully land the first astronauts on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. There was never a failure to launch a three-stage Saturn V rocket – a remarkable human achievement considering it still is the largest rocket ever built.

There had been three uncrewed Apollo/Saturn IB flights in 1966, so Apollo 4 was the first flight to use NASA's official Apollo numbering scheme since it was established in April 1967. Apollo 1 was an exception, officially designated by NASA in January 1967 to honor the crew.

Documentaries and films often use high-speed camera footage taken during the separation of the first and second stage of the Saturn V. The footage is frequently mistaken for footage taken during the Apollo 11 mission; however, it was actually filmed during the Apollo 4 and Apollo 6 flights. Camera capsules are jettisoned after first stage separation and returned to Earth, recovered from Pacific Ocean.

Mission Summary

Emblem

Liem Bahneman created this design, depicting the three stages of the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo spacecraft. The three large stars are in memorial to the three Apollo 1 crew members, and the three smaller stars symbolize the number of orbits achieved by the Apollo 4 mission.

Producer:Retrorocket Emblems

Type:Commemorative

Scarcity:Rare (limited edition of 50)

Dimensions:4 2/16 x 3 6/16 in (104 x 86 mm)

Backing:Plastic

Note:LTA-10R, not LTA-1R, was the lunar test article flown on this mission.

Recovery

The Apollo Recovery Team on the USS Bennington (CVS-20) recovered the command module after it splashed down 10 mi (16 km) from the ship. The command module is on display at the Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Producer:Unknown

Type:Replica

Scarcity:Common

Dimensions:3 14/16 x 4 7/16 in (99 x 113 mm)

Backing:Plastic

Source:Patch available at Popular Patch.