Salvaged Rocket: The 44th Anniversary of the Moonwalk

On the eve of the 44th moonwalk, the Bezos Expedition confirms an Apollo 11 Saturn V F1 engine find.

In a fitting testament to NASA’s momentous Apollo Moon Landing Program, NASA and billionaire Jeff Bezos confirmed today the discovery of a powerful F-1 first stage engine component from the Saturn V moon rocket that launched three American astronauts on the historic journey of Apollo 11 to land the first two humans on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin climbed out of their spacecraft and spent nearly three hours on the lunar surface — walking about, collecting samples and taking pictures. (Command module pilot Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit.) Armstrong famously uttered that it was “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” — though Armstrong would later say that what he really said was that it was “one small step for a man.”

The Saturn V rockets first stage was powered by a cluster of five F-1 engines – a technological marvel and the most powerful single-nozzle, liquid-fueled rocket engine ever developed.

“We brought back thrust chambers, gas generators, injectors, heat exchangers, turbines, fuel manifolds and dozens of other artifacts – all simply gorgeous and a striking testament to the Apollo program,” wrote Bezos

But until today (July19, 2013), the engines exact identification remained elusive because of decades of severe seabed corrosion and their fiery, destructive end upon plunging and smashing unimpeded onto the ocean’s surface.

“2044 is the Rocketdyne serial number that correlates to NASA number 6044, which is the serial number for F-1 Engine #5 from Apollo 11. The intrepid conservator kept digging for more evidence, and after removing more corrosion at the base of the same thrust chamber, he found it – “Unit No 2044″ – stamped into the metal surface.”

Today is the 44th anniversary of the moonwalk. It is a wonderful surprise to now have the engine that carried the Apollo 11 to the moon.