Between 1966 and 1973, 13 Boeing/Douglas/North American/IBM built Saturn V's launched. Three took payload to Earth orbit, one took a crew, and nine took men to the moon. At launch, the Saturn V generated a literally ground-shaking 7.5 million pounds of thrust.
NASA is on track to break its own record with the SLS, providing, of course, the program isn't cancelled. The first iteration of the SLS, the block I, will produce 10 percent more power than the Saturn V with 8.4 million pounds of thrust while the block II will break that record with 9.2 million pounds.
Like the Saturn V, both versions of the rocket will use an upper stage to propel payload from Earth orbit to destinations beyond.
But none of these rockets come close to matching the power of the Nova rocket. Taller and wider than the Saturn V, Nova was designed to generate 12 million pounds of thrust.
The brainchild of German rocket engineer Wernher von Braun, Nova was designed to get men to the moon quickly and directly. Reason suggested, as did science fiction, that taking a big rocket straight to the moon, landing vertically with retrorockets, and taking off again to return to Earth was the best way to go. At first blush it was. Called direct ascent, the method had fewer moving parts so left fewer opportunities for the mission to fail catastrophically.