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Saturn 5 Audio Archive

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The "Saturn 5 Audio Archive Project" is a research endeavor to accurately resurrect the sound field of a Saturn V launch from LC-39A. Two audio CDs are available (Standard and Real Time editions) which illustrate the work of phase 1 of this project. To my knowledge, these CDs are the most accurate audio recordings known of a Saturn V launch.

On July 16th, 1969 as Apollo 11 (AS-506) began its epic journey to land the first men on the moon with the ignition of the Saturn V first stage, the stack generated sound pressure levels beyond the threshold of feeling (in excess of 130 dB SPL below 50 Hertz). Those present literally participated in the event as their bones resonated with the awesome power of the five F-1 rocket engines.

The recording I made that day turned out to be excellent. Quite by accident, I had placed the microphone to achieve an exquisite balance between the Saturn S-IC, the PA announcements and the excitement of the press site. This audio archive of that event is the only accurate recording that I know of that now, over 35 years later, captures the excitement of the day with the fidelity witnessed by those standing at the press site (see the technical page for an explanation of how this was done).

Approximately 3 hours of launch control announcements before the launch are recorded. In the Standard Edition, this material is edited to fit on a single audio compact disk by proportionally removing the press-site background noise. The CD ends when loss of signal is experienced by Canary Islands tracking station.

This recording accurately captured the event and effectively conveys the physical excitement of the liftoff when played on an audio system with an accurate low frequency response (it makes an excellent subwoofer test). The high sound pressure level of AS-506 and its reflection off of proximate cloud layers is captured, along with the popping of overlapping waves of low frequency energy and the reflections off the side of the VAB and the steel roof of the Press Bleachers. Anyone who was there will remember these sounds and the visceral response that conveyed the awesome power of the S-IC first stage.

This recording is an historical audio archive of the launch of a Saturn V, an extinct sound signature. It is of interest to foley artists, archivist and those with a general interest in the Apollo program.

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Check out the CD Contents:

Click here to download the Track Chronology File

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Used with Permission, this plot is copyright 2002, 2003. W. David Woods and Frank O'Brien.

The Apollo 8 Flight Journal

Click on the text below to hear a low bit rate sample of T-15sec thru max-Q.

Hear a Sample (low bit rate mp3)

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Material on this Website and on the CD is copyright (c) 2004, 2005 by James Cottle

For Questions Please Send an Email to:
apollo11cd@earthlink.net