BREAKING NEWS Franklin County parents charged with manslaughter for toddler’s death Full Story
SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Huntsville man discovers assembly manual for Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket

Mark discovered old artifacts that gave a look into his father's work, including two detailed manuals with blueprints on the Saturn V.

Posted: Jul 21, 2019 7:47 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2019 10:38 AM

A Huntsville man discovered Apollo history while going through his father's old belongings: assembly instructions for the Saturn V, which carried man to the moon and was developed right here in Huntsville.

Like any driver, Mark Chesteen turns on the radio in the car. As he listened to a local radio show, he couldn't help but smile.

"Some guy called into the show and said, we could never build the Saturn V rocket again because they've lost all the paperwork and plans and stuff. I said guess again, because I've got them right here," Chesteen said. 

In the late 1950's, Chesteen's father, James, worked with NASA before it was even formed. He was part of Wernher Von Braun's group, called the Army Ballistic Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal. The group ultimately transferred to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in 1960, where James Chesteen played a big role in developing spacecrafts. Yet, the family never knew much. 

"Dad would never talk about work and never brought a piece of paper home, never brought anything," Chesteen said. "I just thought he got up and went to work everyday at five in the morning."

After James Chesteen passed away in 2009, Mark discovered old artifacts that gave a look into his father's work. The most important things were two detailed manuals, with pictures and blueprints on how to construct the booster for the Saturn V.

Mark says his father worked in three different labs at the Marshall Space Flight Center under Von Braun. To him, the house shaking from rocket launch testing wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

"[There were] big, thick, plate glass windows in the front of the house and the back of the house, and when they'd light those things up, [the house] would start shaking and they felt like they were going to jump out of the frames," Chesteen said.

Mark says his father described Von Braun as a quiet man. As a 10 year old, Mark met the famous rocket scientist at a Redstone Arsenal picnic.

"I just remember him being a snappy dresser, he was always well dressed, always had a nice car," Chesteen recalled.

Von Braun gave numerous awards to James, thanking him for his contributions to a number of projects, including the Saturn V. Mark remembers sitting on the beach of Cape Canaveral and says the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch brings him back to that day.

"They got presented with a challenge by President Kennedy, let's get to the moon in this decade, and they got it and made it happen," Chesteen said.

He plans to keep the manuals and awards his father left behind in the family, with hopes of keeping the history alive.

I'm just worried all this history is going to go away and nobody is going to know the whole story of what actually went on out there," Chesteen said.

Chesteen says his father was an engineer for the Apollo program, but is still working to learn the exact role he played in putting boots on the moon. 

Huntsville
Few Clouds
93° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 101°
Florence
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 99°
Fayetteville
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 95°
Decatur
Clear
92° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 99°
Scottsboro
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 102°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99390

Reported Deaths: 1733
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13109243
Mobile9947207
Montgomery6835148
Madison537834
Tuscaloosa421373
Unassigned359961
Baldwin354425
Shelby328335
Marshall316736
Lee267845
Morgan239318
Etowah212131
DeKalb181913
Calhoun178414
Elmore172338
Walker152664
Houston139812
Russell13682
St. Clair133817
Limestone133313
Dallas132323
Franklin127420
Cullman122512
Colbert118113
Autauga116921
Lauderdale116719
Escambia108217
Talladega102614
Jackson9894
Tallapoosa85579
Chambers84138
Dale83424
Blount8004
Chilton7926
Butler76436
Coffee7616
Covington73520
Pike7097
Clarke6629
Barbour5755
Marion57424
Lowndes57224
Marengo55215
Hale47626
Bullock46411
Winston45311
Perry4424
Bibb4385
Wilcox42910
Monroe4214
Randolph40110
Pickens4009
Conecuh39310
Washington39112
Sumter36018
Lawrence3491
Macon33514
Crenshaw3185
Choctaw28312
Cherokee2737
Henry2633
Geneva2611
Clay2585
Greene25111
Lamar2222
Fayette2075
Cleburne1271
Coosa1012
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 122712

Reported Deaths: 1223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby23238304
Davidson20620213
Rutherford655354
Hamilton613253
Knox460039
Williamson355125
Sumner343373
Unassigned316110
Out of TN292414
Wilson229023
Bradley194312
Montgomery193913
Sevier18867
Putnam176718
Trousdale15836
Robertson155819
Hamblen139614
Blount130311
Maury12577
Washington12522
Tipton120810
Madison110217
Sullivan99414
Bedford92811
Hardeman91717
Macon86013
Lake7870
Loudon7423
Gibson7175
Bledsoe7051
Fayette6988
Dickson6912
Anderson6846
Dyer6508
Cheatham5957
Henderson5932
Jefferson5684
Obion5654
Lawrence5626
McMinn54720
Coffee5453
Rhea5362
Warren5304
Carter5226
Lauderdale5088
Haywood5006
Greene4928
Cocke4752
Roane4752
Hawkins4727
Hardin4718
Cumberland4576
Smith4524
Weakley4514
Monroe4449
Giles38113
McNairy3785
DeKalb3602
Franklin3304
Carroll3143
Lincoln3021
Marshall3013
White2935
Henry2880
Johnson2800
Claiborne2720
Crockett2695
Hickman2680
Campbell2481
Wayne2262
Marion2244
Chester2212
Decatur2133
Polk2063
Grainger1970
Overton1951
Unicoi1660
Union1600
Benton1551
Cannon1470
Jackson1271
Humphreys1243
Morgan1221
Scott1190
Grundy1142
Meigs1060
Sequatchie1050
Fentress930
Perry810
Hancock802
Clay760
Lewis751
Stewart740
Moore630
Houston590
Van Buren360
Pickett351

Community Events