Bezos expedition retrieves Apollo rocket engines from ocean floor

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:07pm EDT

1 of 6. A heat exchanger from an Apollo F-1 engine is seen in this handout photo from Bezos Expeditions taken onboard a recovery ship off the coast of Florida March 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Bezos Expeditions/Handout

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A recovery team funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has plucked two rocket engines from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean that were used to send astronauts to the moon more than 40 years ago, he wrote on the project's website on Wednesday.

Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, last year announced plans to search the sea floor for rocket motors shed during Saturn 5 launches to the moon during the 1969-1972 Apollo program.

Bezos Expeditions found and retrieved two Saturn 5 first-stage engines from three miles beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

"We've seen an underwater wonderland - an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program," Bezos wrote.

"Each piece we bring on deck conjures for me the thousands of engineers who worked together back then to do what for all time had been thought surely impossible," he added.

NASA sent seven missions to the moon, six of which successfully carried astronauts to the lunar surface. Bezos said because the serial numbers on the retrieved engines are missing or partially missing, identifying which mission they were used for will be difficult.

"We might see more during restoration. The objects themselves are gorgeous," he added.

"This is a historic find and I congratulate the team for its determination and perseverance in the recovery of these important artifacts of our first efforts to send humans beyond Earth orbit," NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.

The engines, which remain the property of the U.S. government, will be restored and put on public display.

The recovery ship, called Seabed Worker, is due to dock at Port Canaveral, Fla., on Thursday after three weeks at sea.

Bezos also is founder and chief executive of a small privately owned startup space company called Blue Origin, based in Kent, Wash., which is working on developing low-cost, reusable suborbital and orbital spaceships to carry people and experiments.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Bob Burgdorfer)

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Comments (5)
indycarfan wrote:
These engines were designed, tested, and built by Rocketdyne Canoga Park California.

My Uncle was #3 engineer on this project. They would test the engines bolted to a heavy concrete fixture 20 miles north of the valley for 30 a second burn, it would shake the earth.

Each engine developed 1.5 million pounds of thrust and used five together on the main rocket. 7.5 million Pounds of thrust on launch. What courage the Apollo astronauts had.

Mar 20, 2013 8:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
XiroMisho wrote:
indycarfan: Tell your uncle “Thank you” for his contributions to science.

Mar 20, 2013 10:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Vercingetorix wrote:
Cool story, indycarfan. Thanks for sharing.

Mar 20, 2013 10:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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