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The Apollo-Saturn 201 (AS-201) mission was an unmanned suborbital flight to test the Saturn 1B launch vehicle and the Apollo Command and Service Modules. It was the first flight of the two-stage Saturn 1B. The objectives of the flight were to verify the structural integrity, launch loads, stage separation, and operation of subsystems of the Saturn 1B, and evaluate the Apollo spacecraft subsystems, heatshield, and mission support facilities. Due to loss of data during maximum heating of the heatshield the evaluation of the ablator at high re-entry rates was not achieved, but all other objectives were met.

The Saturn 1B, carrying the unmanned Apollo spacecraft CSM-009, was launched from launch complex 34 of the eastern test range of Cape Canaveral. After ignition of the S-IVB liquid-hydrogen-powered second stage the launch escape tower was jettisoned and the recoverable cameras ejected. Following a seven minute burn the 2nd stage and instrument unit separated from the Apollo CSM spacecraft. The CSM reached a maximum altitude of 499 km over the Atlantic Ocean before beginning its descent. At this time a ullage maneuver was performed which consisted of rocket burns designed to increase the re-entry velocity in order to test the heatshield. The reaction-control system rockets were fired for 30 seconds, then the service modules main propulsion engine was fired for 100 seconds and then for 10 seconds. The service module was jettisoned and the command module re-entered at 8300 meters/sec, generating a re-entry heat of roughly 2200 degrees C. Three main parachutes deployed at an altitude of 3700 meters and splashdown took place in the Atlantic at 16:49 UT, 37 minutes after launch, at 8.18 deg S. 11.15 deg W, 8472 km downrange. The target point was missed by 72 km, and the U.S.S. Boxer recovered the capsule by 19:20 UT.

Alternate Names

  • Apollo-Saturn 201

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1966-02-26
Launch Vehicle: Saturn 1B
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 20820.1 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Manned Space Flight (United States)


  • Engineering

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail

Selected References

  • Astronautics and aeronautics, NASA, SP-4004, Wash., D.C., 1964.

Other Sources of Apollo Information at NSSDCA

Apollo page
Lunar Science Page

Related Information at NSSDCA

Moon page

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