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Direct ascent was a proposed method for a mission to the Moon. In the United States, direct ascent proposed using the enormous Nova rocket to launch a spacecraft directly to the Moon, where it would land tail-first and then launch off the Moon back to Earth. The other options that NASA considered for the mission to the moon were Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (which was the strategy used successfully in Project Apollo) and Earth Orbit Rendezvous.
The Saturn C-8 was the largest member of the Saturn series of rockets to be designed. It was a potential alternative to the Nova rocket, should NASA have chosen a direct-landing method of lunar exploration for the Apollo program. The first stage was an increased diameter version of the S-IC. The second stage was an increased diameter S-II stage. Both of these stages had eight engines, as opposed to the standard five. The third stage was a stretched S-IVB stage, which retained its original diameter and engine.
When NASA announced on September 7, 1961 that the government-owned Michoud Ordnance Plant near New Orleans, LA, would be the site for fabrication and assembly of the Saturn first stages as well as larger vehicles in the Saturn program. Finalists were two government-owned plants in St. Louis and New Orleans. The height of the factory roof at Michoud meant that an 8 x F-1 engined launch vehicle (Saturn C-8, Nova class) could not be built; 4 or 5 engines would have to be the maximum. This decision ended consideration of a Nova class launch vehicle for Direct Ascent to the Moon or as heavy-lift derivatives for Earth Orbit Rendezvous. Ultimately, the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous ("LOR") concept approved in 1962 rendered the C-8 obsolete, and the smaller Saturn C-5 was developed instead under the designation "Saturn V", as the LOR spacecraft was within its payload capacity.