Join Donate

Share Your Story • Duane A. Graham • October 2, 2019

The Booster

This isn’t a story about the moon landing but more about the whole program. Of course I watched Armstrong step onto the moon but it was more a completion of what I had spent some few years working on the Apollo program. In 1960 I worked for Boeing in Wichita, Kansas. The company had been awarded the contract to build the Saturn 5 Booster, which is the first stage rocket that lifted the Apollo Astronauts to the moon. I had been called into the office of the department head and told that I would be assigned to do the technical illustrations of the rocket that was going to send people to the moon. I was astounded and flattered and excited.

In those days technical illustrations were made by the illustrator on paper (vellum) and pencil. There were no such thing as computers with CAD/CAM software that we could use. It all had to be drawn from blueprints made by the engineers who were working on the design. I made a number of technical drawings and a few freehand drawings of the Booster and its tooling. I became very familiar with how each piece was made and how it all went together. I also illustrated much of the tooling that made each part and how parts were machined, formed, welded, and assembled. The drawing I made of the entire booster (shown with each major component pulled apart in relation to the next adjoining component) was made to scale only greatly reduced because of the enormous size of the assembled unit. Even so the drawing was over 20 feet long.

The job was one of my most exciting times in my life. There were a great number of people that I worked with, each responsible for the design of the components, the tools, the check fixtures and the assembly. I was a young man then, today, as an old man I still marvel at what this country did in such a short amount of time to accomplish a dream presented as a challenge by a foresighted man named John Kennedy and all the talented people that made that dream come true. I still have copies of some of those drawings in my possession and have them posted on my studio wall to look at and dream of those very exciting days

Comments & Sharing
Bill Nye and people
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

The Planetary Fund

Help advance robotic and human space exploration, defend our planet, and search for life.


You are here: