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In September 1945, President Truman authorised a program named Operation Paperclip. This required the German rocket technologist Wernher von Braun and about seven hundred German rocket engineers and technicians to travel to the US in order to assist towards the Space Race. Consequently, the operation was top secret.
As a result of being soon after the Second World War, many of the German workers were former members, and some were former leaders, of the Nazi Party.
Thus, a team of mostly German rocket scientists developed the Saturn family of American rockets to launch heavy payloads to Earth orbit and beyond. This type of rocket is known as a super heavy-lift launch vehicle whereby it can lift more than 50 tonnes.
The Saturn V was in use between 1967 and 1973 and was the largest production model of the Saturn family. In fact, it was the most powerful rocket that had ever flown successfully. It was used in the Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s and was also used to launch the Skylab space station in 1973 – the first American space station.
In total, the Kennedy Space Center launched the Saturn V 13 times with no loss of crew or payload. One launch would cost $185 million in 1969–1971 dollars – the equivalent of $1.23 billion in 2019 value. In total, the Research and Development and flights of the Saturn V cost $6.417 billion (equivalent to $35 billion in 2019).
To date, the Saturn V remains the only launch vehicle to carry humans beyond low Earth orbit.