Amazon CEO recovers Apollo engines from Atlantic

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

LOS ANGELES -- Rusted pieces of two Apollo-era rocket engines that helped boost astronauts to the moon have been fished out of the murky depths of the Atlantic, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos and NASA said Wednesday.

A privately funded expedition led by Mr. Bezos raised the main engine parts during three weeks at sea and was headed back to Cape Canaveral, Fla., the manned lunar missions' launch pad.

"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," Mr. Bezos wrote in an online posting.

Last year, the Bezos team used sonar to spot the sunken engines resting nearly 3 miles deep in the Atlantic and 360 miles from Cape Canaveral. At the time, the Internet mogul said the artifacts were part of the Apollo 11 mission that gave the world "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Mr. Bezos now says it's unclear which Apollo mission the recovered engines belonged to, because the serial numbers were missing or hard to read on the corroded pieces. NASA is helping to trace the hardware's origin.

Apollo astronauts were launched aboard the mighty Saturn V rocket during the 1960s and '70s. Each rocket had a cluster of five engines, which produced about 7 1/2 million pounds of thrust. After liftoff, the engines -- each weighing 18,000 pounds -- fell to the ocean as designed, with no plans to retrieve them.

Mr. Bezos and his team sent underwater robots to hoist the engines, which are NASA property. In a statement, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden called the recovery "a historic find."

Mr. Bezos plans to restore the engine parts, which included a nozzle, turbine, thrust chamber and heat exchanger. Amazon.com Inc. spokesman Drew Herdener declined Wednesday to reveal the recovery or restoration costs.

NASA has previously said an engine would head for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. If a second were recovered, it would be displayed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where Amazon.com is based.

The ocean floor off Cape Canaveral is strewn with jettisoned rockets and flight parts from missions since the start of the Space Age. What survived after plunging into the ocean is unknown.

In one of the more famous recoveries, a private company in 1999 hoisted Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule that accidentally sank in the Atlantic after splashdown in 1961. The capsule is now featured at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Besides running the online retailer, Mr. Bezos founded Blue Origins, one of the companies with a NASA contract to develop a spaceship to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

In a previous posting, Mr. Bezos said he was inspired by NASA as a child, and by recovering the engines, "maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore."

LOS ANGELES -- Rusted pieces of two Apollo-era rocket engines that helped boost astronauts to the moon have been fished out of the murky depths of the Atlantic, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos and NASA said Wednesday.

A privately funded expedition led by Mr. Bezos raised the main engine parts during three weeks at sea and was headed back to Cape Canaveral, Fla., the manned lunar missions' launch pad.

"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," Mr. Bezos wrote in an online posting.

Last year, the Bezos team used sonar to spot the sunken engines resting nearly 3 miles deep in the Atlantic Ocean and 360 miles from Cape Canaveral. At the time, the Internet mogul said the artifacts were part of the Apollo 11 mission that gave the world "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Mr. Bezos now says it's unclear which Apollo mission the recovered engines belonged to, because the serial numbers were missing or hard to read on the corroded pieces. NASA is helping to trace the hardware's origin.

Apollo astronauts were launched aboard the mighty Saturn V rocket during the 1960s and '70s. Each rocket had a cluster of five engines, which produced about 71/2 million pounds of thrust. After liftoff, the engines -- each weighing 18,000 pounds -- fell to the ocean as designed, with no plans to retrieve them.

Mr. Bezos and his team sent underwater robots to hoist the engines, which are NASA property. In a statement, NASA administrator Charles Bolden called the recovery "a historic find."

Mr. Bezos plans to restore the engine parts, which included a nozzle, turbine, thrust chamber and heat exchanger. Amazon.com Inc. spokesman Drew Herdener declined Wednesday to reveal the recovery or restoration costs.

NASA has previously said an engine would head for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. If a second were recovered, it would be displayed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where Amazon.com is based.

The ocean floor off Cape Canaveral is strewn with jettisoned rockets and flight parts from missions since the start of the Space Age. What survived after plunging into the ocean is unknown.

In one of the more famous recoveries, a private company in 1999 hoisted Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule that accidentally sank in the Atlantic after splashdown in 1961. The capsule is now featured at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Besides running the online retailer, Mr. Bezos founded Blue Origins, one of the companies with a NASA contract to develop a spaceship to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

In a previous posting, Mr. Bezos said he was inspired by NASA as a child, and by recovering the engines, "maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore."

nation


Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here