Amazon's Bezos to raise Apollo rockets from watery grave

Jeff Bezos says he's found the rockets that lifted Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 crew toward the moon and that he'll recover them from the seafloor.

Apollo 11 lifts off on July 16, 1969. NASA

Not to be outdone by "Titanic" director James Cameron, Amazon's Jeff Bezos has just announced that after searching the seafloor, he's located the rockets that thrust Neil Armstrong toward the moon more than 40 years ago and plans to bring them back onto dry land.

Writing on his "Bezos Expeditions" blog today, the e-commerce guru and would-be space explorer said his team had located the five F-1 rockets that lifted the Apollo 11 mission spaceward and then plunged into the Atlantic.

The F-1s, pre-Davy Jones' Locker. NASA

"I'm excited to report that, using state-of-the-art deep sea sonar, the team has found the Apollo 11 engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface, and we're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor," Bezos wrote. "We don't know yet what condition these engines might be in -- they hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years. On the other hand, they're made of tough stuff, so we'll see."

The rockets still belong to NASA, Bezos said, and if one or more are indeed recovered, he hopes one will end up in the Smithsonian and perhaps another will touch down at the Museum of Flight in Amazon's hometown of Seattle.

"NASA is one of the few institutions I know that can inspire five-year-olds," Bezos wrote. "It sure inspired me, and with this endeavor, maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore."

Cameron. of course, recently became the first person to make a solo dive to the ocean's deepest spot . He's also made more than 30 dives to explore the wreck of the Titanic, and he's taken a stab at contributing technology to NASA's Mars exploration efforts as well.

Bezos is an investor in Blue Origin , one of four commercial entities that have partnered with NASA to develop commercial manned spaceflight capabilities .

Here's the full text of Bezos' post about the F-1 rockets:

The F-1 rocket engine is still a modern wonder -- one and a half million pounds of thrust, 32 million horsepower, and burning 6,000 pounds of rocket grade kerosene and liquid oxygen every second. On July 16, 1969, the world watched as five particular F-1 engines fired in concert, beginning the historic Apollo 11 mission. Those five F-1s burned for just a few minutes, and then plunged back to Earth into the Atlantic Ocean, just as NASA planned. A few days later, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

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?

I'm excited to report that, using state-of-the-art deep sea sonar, the team has found the Apollo 11 engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface, and we're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor. We don't know yet what condition these engines might be in - they hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years. On the other hand, they're made of tough stuff, so we'll see.

Though they've been on the ocean floor for a long time, the engines remain the property of NASA. If we are able to recover one of these F-1 engines that started mankind on its first journey to another heavenly body, I imagine that NASA would decide to make it available to the Smithsonian for all to see. If we're able to raise more than one engine, I've asked NASA if they would consider making it available to the excellent Museum of Flight here in Seattle. (For clarity, I'll point out that no public funding will be used to attempt to raise the engines, as it's being undertaken privately.)

NASA is one of the few institutions I know that can inspire five-year-olds. It sure inspired me, and with this endeavor, maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore.

We'll keep you posted.

Sincerely,

Jeff Bezos
 

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