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The Legacy of Flight

Images from the archives of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Saturn V


On December 7, 1972, at 2:33 a.m., night turns to day at the Kennedy Space Center, as the Saturn V rocket of Apollo 17 ignites and rises past its gantry. Well over a half-million spectators have gathered to witness the only Apollo launch to take place at night. The ground trembles beneath them. The deafening roar and the blinding light overwhelm their senses. As the rocket thunders upward and arcs out over the Atlantic, its fiery glow brightens the sky from North Carolina to Cuba.

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