Radioed from Cape Canaveral to the world April 25, 1962, was this achievement: "The great Saturn booster was launched successfully for the second time today and was deliberately blown up after the trial to dump 95 tons of cloud-forming water into the upper atmosphere. With a tremendous roar and spurt of flame, the world's mightiest known rocket rode 1.3 million pounds of thrust to an altitude of 65 miles. There a signal from the ground detonated dynamite charges which ripped the vehicle apart spilling the water into the near-vacuum of space in a bonus experiment.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced several minutes after the 9 a.m. launching that the flight was completely successful. Observers saw the water quickly form a huge cloud of snow-like ice particles which spread several hundred feet across a clear sky.
The great mass—higher than any natural cloud has flown—remained seemingly motionless in the air for only a few seconds, then spread apart and quickly vanished.
As on the first flight of the Saturn last October, only the first-stage performance was being checked. And once again it was a remarkable performance by what is believed to be the largest and most complex rocket in the world—a forerunner of a rocket designed to carry American astronauts to the moon later in this decade.
By the time the explosion charge was ignited 160 seconds after launching, the 162-foot Saturn had completed its main mission—a check-out on the booster itself.
The eight powerful engines in the first stage functioned for about 115 seconds, pushing the 463-ton vehicle to an altitude of 35 miles. The engines then shut off as planned and the rocket coasted up to the point of explosion — which occurred some 50 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral over the Atlantic.
Two dummy upper stages were filled with water to simulate the weight of the upper assembly to be carried on future Saturns.
It was this 23,000 gallons of water which was spilled into the icy ionosphere in a secondary scientific experiment dubbed "Project Highwater."
By tracking the cloud and recording its action scientists hoped to gain further knowledge of the upper atmosphere. Officials were jubilant. Two straight successes in the program have given added impetus to America's plan to race the Soviet Union to the moon.
Richard Canfield, Saturn project officer, reported the good shots show that a vehicle such as Saturn certainly is feasible. Canfield said primary purposes of the flight were to evaluate propulsion, areodynamic characteristics, guidance and other systems in the first stage. He said only minor changes have been made as a result of the highly successful maiden flight last October 27th.
Thinking of Saturn's success, I think of what Shakespeare wrote: "O, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful—and yet again wonderful."
And yet, as Walter Pate wrote, man maintains a kind of candid discontent in the face of the very highest achievement.
At Edwards Airforce Base, California, the veteran rocket plane pilot, Scott Crossfield, flew an X-15 equipped with the most powerful aircraft engine ever built—and said it is "even hotter than expected"—topping all prediction. Its acceleration was so abrupt, he said, it was "almost like an explosion." He made this prediction for the sleek rocket plane, expected to soar to the edge of space: "I'm sure it will exceed all our expectations. We have overestimated the drag (wind resistance) of the plane with its new engine."
Although under orders to hold the engine at half throttle, Crossfield zoomed to nearly 80,000 feet at the top speed close to 2,000 miles per hour. That's no record. Other X-15s, with smaller engines and flown by other pilots, have gone 2,196 m.p.h. and reached 136,500 feet. On all our flights with the big engine, the X-15 is expected to hit 4,000 m.p.h. and streak perhaps 100 miles high.
The new engine called the ZLR-99, burns liquid oxygen and anhydrous ammonia and develops a thrust of 57,000 pounds.
But more meaningful for the welfare of humanity is when God answers prayer speedily as David asked Him to: "Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me" (Psalm 31:2). More meaningful for the welfare of those who trust in God is to have the experience set forth in these words:
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am (Isaiah 58:2,8).