Apollo 4 was the first of the “big shots,” the test launch of the colossal three-stage Saturn V space vehicle that would take men to the Moon.

LIFE, 24 November 1967, ppg. 28-29 illustrates variation

On the morning of November 9, 1967, the ambitious effort to develop the Saturn V was achieved. At 7:00 a.m. EST, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center experienced the roar of a rocket. The mission was the first to lift off from Launch Complex 39, specially constructed for the giant Moon rocket, representing a major milestone in NASA’s efforts to land humans on the Moon.

The rocket’s power of 7.5 million pounds of thrust reached the Launch Control Center (LCC), Press Site and spectators, all three miles away, shocking even veteran launch viewers and creating one of the loudest-ever human-made sounds. “Go, baby, go,” Wernher von Braun, the chief architect of the Saturn V rocket, was heard to shout. (Poole, pg. 85)

The Saturn V’s third stage, or S-IVB, and Apollo Command/ Service Module were placed into a nearly circular 115-mile orbit, as would be the case on lunar missions. After two orbits, the S-IVB’s first re-ignition put the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit with a high point of 11,200 miles.

Read more:  Apollo 4 was First-Ever Launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, NASA.