Apollo Engines Raised From The Deep By Jeff Bezos

A piece of lunar history was recovered from the ocean this week by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The billionaire, along with his team, recovered the F1 engines that helped launch astronauts into space during the Apollo moon missions more than 40 years ago.

The engines are believed to be from the Apollo 11 mission but Bezos said that the serial numbers had faded away from the engines and it may be impossible to identify the mission.

The Bezos Expedition website reads: “What an incredible adventure … We found so much. 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.”

NASA never thought that it would see the Apollo engines again.

The F-1 engines used during the Apollo missions were dropped into the ocean as the Saturn V Rockets ascended into space. The engines, which made the Apollo missions possible, were left to rust at the bottom of the ocean for more than 40 years and would have stayed there for another 40 years if it wasn’t for Bezos and his team.

The Amazon CEO started searching the ocean floor and last year he announced that he had located one of the Apollo engines.

apollo engine f-1 thrust chamber

At the time, Bezos said: “Millions of people were inspired by the Apollo Program. I was five years old when I watched Apollo 11 unfold on television, and without any doubt it was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering, and exploration. A year or so ago, I started to wonder, with the right team of undersea pros, could we find and potentially recover the F-1 engines that started mankind’s mission to the moon?…”

Bezos got his answer today.

The Amazon CEO said that the technology used to find and recover the F-1 Engines was nearly as impressive as the engines themselves. The expedition team used Remotely Operated Vehicles working 14,000 feet below the surface to search for the engines. The ROVs were tethered to the ship with fiber optics in order to transmit data about the ocean floor. Bezos said that it felt like he was exploring the surface of the moon with his underwater ROVs.

The expedition site reads: “We on the team were often struck by poetic echoes of the lunar missions. The buoyancy of the ROVs looks every bit like microgravity. The blackness of the horizon. The gray and colorless ocean floor. Only the occasional deep sea fish broke the illusion.”

Bezos said that he hopes to retell the story of the Apollo missions and now he has found enough parts from the F-1 Engines to construct a display.

The site reads: “We’re bringing home enough major components to fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines. The upcoming restoration will stabilize the hardware and prevent further corrosion. We want the hardware to tell its true story, including its 5,000 mile per hour re-entry and subsequent impact with the ocean surface. We’re excited to get this hardware on display where just maybe it will inspire something amazing.”

Here’s a look at what Bezos and his team discovered on the ocean floor. (You can see more photos on the Bezos Expedition website.)