Forgetting the Asbestos

An interesting writeup on a major part of the iconic Saturn V engines that we’ve collectively forgotten about, because nothing about them displays it - the asbestos insulation layer around the outside of the nozzles. You’ve almost certainly never seen it on any display, in any form - but it was critical to the actual survival of the engines in flight.

This was a genuinely fascinating article, and I appreciated the historical side-comments the author made, too. Thanks for sharing!

Yeah… and those engines were just bonkers.

The fuel pump delivered 15,471 gallons or 58,560 liters of RP-1 (kerosene) per minute. RP-1 is heavier than kerosene. Assuming 1.02g/ml, we get 995.5kg/s or 2,195lbs/s.

The higher heating value of kerosene is 47 MJ/kg, using that to gain a rough estimate, we arrive at 46,788.5 MJ/s per engine. Or, 233,942.5 MJ/s for all five engines.

That’s a ton of kerosene, per engine, per second.

The total engine output? 65MWh. Per second. That’s 4x my house’s energy use - in a second. That’s just bloody insane. I’d like to make some witty comment, but the reality is that I can’t. The entire energy that we used in the first 4 years of being in Idaho, a Saturn V 1st stage put out in a second. I’ll go collect my mind somewhere else, because it’s been blown across the grass by that.