During the Apollo missions, NASA made use of the largest rocket they’ve built to date- the Saturn V rocket. So large in fact, that apart from the upcoming SLS missions Miles will be a part of in 2017, NASA hasn’t built anything as big since the last one built in 1973. These rockets were gargantuan and parts of these can easily dwarf buildings. Imagine parts 6 times the size of a school bus (42 meters long with a diameter of 10.1 meters) tumbling through space at speeds measured in KILOMETERS per second. During these missions, NASA had to get creative with ways of managing these gigantic tumbling cylinders of kinetic doom`iness.
One of the ways NASA came up with for disposing of these parts of the rocket were to either let them tumble back to Earth and splash down in the ocean, letting them eject off into the voids of space, or to purposefully crash them into the surface of the Moon so they did not pose a threat to people, astronaut or not. Recently, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter returned pictures of Apollo 16’s S-IVB rocket stage which was disposed of by purposefully crashing into the surface of the moon.

Photo credit: NASA.gov

Photo credit: NASA.gov

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