‘It’s a sad day for North Alabama’: Saturn 1B removal officially begins

WAFF 48's Claudia Peppenhorst reporting
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 7:13 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Ala. (WAFF) - One of the iconic symbols of Alabama’s role in space exploration is coming down. Crews are currently working to deconstruct the 224-foot-tall Saturn 1B Rocket at the Alabama Welcome Center on Interstate 65 in Ardmore.

The rocket has stood tall and welcomed people into Alabama for 44-years. Earlier this year, leaders with the Marshall Space Flight Center announced that the rocket would come down due to it’s deteriorating state.

“It’s a very sad day for North Alabama and the state as a whole,” said State Senator Tom Butler.

Butler said he is mourning the loss of this historic Alabama symbol.

“I’m just sad about the fact that the day has come, that this symbol that we treasure is going to be gone,” Butler said.

Butler introduced legislature earlier this year with the hopes of saving Saturn 1B. It was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey, but was ultimately unsuccessful in saving the rocket.

Butler said because the rocket was on loan from NASA, not much could be done to stop the removal.

“Since the day has finally come, I plan to drive up and take a look at the rocket sometime today and say goodbye,” Butler said.

But still, one question remains.

“What happens now? I don’t know quite frankly,” Butler said.

Upon it’s removal, the rocket will be returned to NASA.

Leaders with the Marshall Space Flight Center released a statement about the future of Saturn 1B:

Once the rocket is on the ground, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will take possession and handle its safe disposal. NASA recognizes the importance of the space program to Alabama and the nation, and we remain committed to preserving its artifacts to maximum extent possible.

Marshall Space Flight Center

Butler said since the rocket is coming down, he’s hopeful they will do something to keep it’s history alive.

“The Saturn 1B rocket is an iconic symbol for the entire state,” Butler said. “I think it makes for a very sad day to such a symbol taken down.”

Leaders with the Space and Rocket center say it will take 4-5 weeks to completely remove the Saturn 1B.

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