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SA-214, the Last Cluster Booster

SA-214 at MSFC
SA-214 at Marshall Space Flight Center on July 31, 1970 (Click for enlargement) 

NASA Photo No. 0-10278 shows SA-214, the last Saturn IB booster stage, in storage at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The photo caption says that SA-214 was one of three Saturn IB booster stages shipped to Marshall from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans during the week of July 31, 1970. The stages were stored within a "huge storage tent erected within a building of the MSFC Quality and Reliability Assurance Laboratory". They were to be stored side by side within the 200 foot long, 80 foot wide translucent vinyl tent "until needed for future space missions".

Unfortunately, SA-214 and her sisters (probably SA-212 and SA-213) were never "needed". After several years of storage, the three stages were parted out and scrapped. The booster's H-1 engines were reassigned for use in NASA's Delta program.

SA-214 was the last Saturn cluster booster. Originally ordered in 1967 to support the Apollo Applications Program, funding shortfalls forced NASA to halt production of the SA-213 and SA-214 first stages in 1968. When production was halted, the tanks and engines of SA-213/4 had been completed, but the stages had not yet been clustered at Michoud. Obviously, enough money was eventually provided to allow Chrysler to complete assembly of the boosters, but since NASA never ordered any S-IVB second stages for SA-213 and SA-214, the boosters were orphans. The SA-212 booster was left in a similar state when its S-IVB second stage was reassigned for conversion to Skylab in 1971.

Today, with the agency scrambling to develop a new Saturn IB class Crew Launch Vehicle, it almost hurts to view this photograph of one of three powerful booster stages that NASA saw fit, in another time, to scrap.

See Saturn IB History for more information.

For more Saturn artifact images, go to the Library page.

For a full accounting of Saturn 1, 1B, and V test and flight hardware, visit the Space Launch Report Saturn Vehicle History pages.

Page Updated December 27, 2005