|Quoting Thrust (Reply 4):|
Forgive me if I miscommunicated that I actually believed the Saturn V was a bad choice. I think the Saturn V was a perfect choice. Somebody on youtube was trying to convince me otherwise, so I came on here hoping that the "voice of reason" would explain that away, because while I was fairly certain I could explain it away, I needed a second opinion. No, I don't think NASA was that incompetent, and no, I don't think NASA just bet tons of money on a gamble.
My apologies, I appear to have read more into your post than was intended.
Skylab was a modified S-IVB, which had obviously flown a number of times as part of the S-V stack. The original plan was to launch it on an S-IC
, and actually have it an active stage – hence the metal mesh floors to avoid blocking the flow of fuel inside the “fuel tanks”. In the end it lost its J-2 and associated gear, and was flown dry instead.
To be sure, much of the stuff they bolted to the outside was new, and obviously some of that (specifically the shroud) failed. But the notion that "forces of a Saturn V launch were too extreme for it to handle" are a bit silly. The S-V didn't have particularly high G forces (as evidenced by humans flying on it), nor particularly high aerodynamic stresses or vibration levels. It was just particularly large.
As a general rule, nobody builds spacecraft boosters* with excessive values of any of those, for the simple fact that the payload needs to survive the trip to orbit. Sure, you could build a launch vehicle that hit 20G on the way up (and all other things being equal, that might well reduce the required size of the booster), but think of the enormous structural penalties that would bring.
*Not necessarily true for ICBMs