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Amazon founder to recover Apollo 11 engine from ocean depths

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is setting off to recover at least one of the F-1 engines that propelled Apollo 11 and its crew to the moon.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is set to launch a mission to recover the engines of NASA's Apollo 11 spacecraft from the depths of the Atlantic ocean.

Bezos found Apollo 11's F-1 booster rockets lying some 14,000 feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic ocean using deep-sea sonar technology and together with his team of intrepid sea salvagers, will attempt to raise "one or more" of them from the deep, dark depths.

Why on Earth is the Amazon founder doing this? He's got to do something with that mountain of cash he's made from online shopping, and recovering the rockets seems quite close to his heart. Speaking on his website, Bezos says, "NASA is one of the few institutions I know that can inspire 5-year-olds. It sure inspired me, and with this endeavour, maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore." So there you go.

He's not heavy on detail about exactly how you go about retrieving a 19-foot high, 9-tonne rocket engine from the depths of an ocean, so I'm forced to assume it's using some kind of giant fishing hook and some strong line. Apollo 11 used five F-1 engines to propel it to the moon, each one providing half a million pounds of thrust and 32 million horsepower, burning 6,000 pounds of rocket fuel and liquid oxygen every second.

Bezos is hoping to rescue at least one of the engines, which still technically belong to NASA, but he hopes will be donated to the Smithsonian museum. If the other engines are in the vicinity, he hopes to get them too, donating one to the Seattle Museum of Flight -- I think another one would make a great plant-pot in his no doubt massive garden, too.

The F-1 engines only burned for a few minutes before being jettisoned into the Atlantic, but they managed to propel Apollo 11 and its crew Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins towards the moon, in order to have the human race set foot on its surface and clarify once and for all exactly which cheese it's made of. Turns out it was Red Leicester.

Bezos didn't say how long this project is going to take, but it's probably not the sort of thing you rush out and get on with, so don't expect them turning up anytime soon. What do you think of his plan? Is it worth trying recover these engines? Would you sit beside him dangling your rod into the water? Let me know in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

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