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Apollo 11 F-1 Engine Finding Confirmed by Jeff Bezos on Eve of 1st Human Moonwalk

Saturn V Moon Rocket F-1 Engine Thrust Chamber recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Jeff Bezos Expeditions

Saturn V Moon Rocket F-1 Engine Thrust Chamber recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Jeff Bezos Expeditions

In a fitting testament to NASA’s momentous Apollo Moon Landing Program, NASA and billionaire Jeff Bezos confirmed today (July 19) 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.

“On the eve of the 44th moonwalk anniversary, the Bezos Expedition confirms an Apollo 11 Saturn V F1 engine find,” NASA officially announced on its websites just moments ago today, July 19.

Apollo 11 commander and NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, was immortalized forever when he first set foot on the moon 44 years ago tomorrow (July 20, 1969), followed minutes later by the lunar module pilot, NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

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.

“44 years ago tomorrow Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, and now we have recovered a critical technological marvel that made it all possible,” says Bezos on his Expedition website today.

Apollo 11 Saturn V F-1 Engine Thrust Chamber recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean- stenciled with Rocketdyne serial number “2044”. Credit: Jeff Bezos Expeditions

Apollo 11 Saturn V F-1 Engine Thrust Chamber recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean- stenciled with Rocketdyne serial number “2044”. Credit: Jeff Bezos Expeditions

Bezos, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the aerospace company Blue Origin and Amazon.com, originally announced the discovery and recovery of significant components of two flown F-1 engines amongst a field of twisted wreckage from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in March of this year, aboard the Seabed Worker at Port Canaveral, Florida, along with a treasure trove of other major Saturn V components hauled up from a depth of almost 3 miles.

“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 in a update this morning, July 19.

But until today, 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.

Saturn V F-1 Engine Nozzle recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Jeff Bezos Expeditions

Saturn V F-1 Engine nozzle recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Jeff Bezos Expeditions

Conservators from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas worked painstakingly since March to identify the F-1 engine parts.

“Today, I’m thrilled to share some exciting news. One of the conservators who was scanning the objects with a black light and a special lens filter has made a breakthrough discovery – “2044” – stenciled in black paint on the side of one of the massive thrust chambers, says Bezos.

“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.”

Blacklight ocean view of Saturn V F-1 Engine recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.   Credit: Jeff Bezos Expeditions

Blacklight view of Apollo 11 Saturn V F-1 Engine recovered from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean with identifying “2044” serial number. Credit: Jeff Bezos Expeditions

Apollo 11 launched to the Moon on July 16, 1969 from Launch Complex 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Sea of Tranquility inside the Lunar Module. They took a single lunar excursion and spent 2 hours and 11 minutes as the first two men to walk on the moon. They stayed on the moon for a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes before blasting off for the journey back home to Earth.

Armstrong suddenly passed away nearly a year ago on August 25, 2012 at age 82 – read my stories, here and here.

Aldrin is still active and strenuously advocating for starting human expeditions to the Red Planet.

He outlined his exploration concepts in a newly published book titled – “Mission to Mars.”


The five F-1 engines used in the 138-foot-tall Saturn V first stage known as the S-IC generated 7.5 million pounds of liftoff thrust, or some 1.5 million pounds each. They stand 19 feet tall by 12 feet wide. Each one weighs over 18,000 pounds and was manufactured by Rocketdyne.

The F-1 had more power than all three space shuttle main engines combined. They burned a mixture of liquid oxygen and kerosene fuel for two-and-one-half-minutes, carrying the Saturn V to an altitude of some 36 miles.

Altogether, six Apollo Moon landing flights boosted by Saturn V’s sent a total of 12 humans on moon walking expeditions to Earth’s nearest neighbor during the 1960s and 1970s.

“This is a big milestone for the project and the whole team couldn’t be more excited to share it with you all,” Bezos wrote.

Bezos’ Blue Origin firm is also working to develop a commercial rocket and ‘space taxi’ to finally resume launching American astronauts back to low Earth orbit from American soil after a multi year gap.

More than four decades have passed since the last humans traversed the lunar surface in December 1972 during NASA’s Apollo 17 moon landing mission.

After all that time, the F-1 may yet live again.

NASA is now working on an upgraded F-1 to power a future variant of the new SLS heavy lift booster under development and intended to launch humans aboard the new Orion crew capsule back to the Moon and to deep space destinations including Asteroids and Mars.

NASA’s robotic exploration of the moon continues this year with the blastoff of the LADEE Lunar observatory on Sept. 6 from NASA’s Wallops Island facility in Virginia.

Ken Kremer

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plant the US flag on the Lunar Surface during 1st human moonwalk in history - exactly 44 years ago on July 20, 1969 during Apollo 1l mission. Credit: NASA

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plant the US flag on the Lunar Surface during 1st human moonwalk in history – exactly 44 years ago on July 20, 1969 during Apollo 1l mission. Credit: NASA


Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • norris720 July 20, 2013, 6:54 PM

    That was a great day my 18 birthday. I was visiting Ghana with the Red Cross.7/20/69

  • delphinus100 July 21, 2013, 2:14 AM

    Indeed. I’m two years past that.

    Ted Kennedy’s career would have been hurt even more than it was, were it not that most of us were watching Apollo 11 (a project started, ironically, by his brother, but one Ted himself did not support) more closely.at the time.

  • Kfredrick72 July 21, 2013, 3:07 AM

    Maybe if we all had more to root for we would stop arguing with each other. You have an axe to grind and that is fine, but you are not solving anything. Race relations have improved in this country dramatically, we need to stop flogging ourselves if we are going to move ahead. I want to STOP the whining and restore our greatness.

    • Tom Linder July 20, 2013, 11:13 PM

      Oh, sure, they’ve improved dramatically. Unless you’re Trayvon Martin, in which case they’re decidedly bad. I have no axe to grind. You’re the one who brought this completely unrelated topic up.

      • Eric Bryce July 22, 2013, 9:01 AM

        The death of Trayvon Martin was the result of an overzealous neighborhood watchman with a gun and a young man with too much attitude to utter 6 little words without feeling like he was being forced to disrespect himself by telling the “creepy ass cracker’ “I’m staying here with my father” His own sense of self importance wouldn’t have allowed him to answer to an older figure in authority. That same attitude and misplaced belief in their self importance that man young people black and white carry with them like a giant chip on their shoulder these days.

  • Rob July 21, 2013, 2:12 AM

    All I can say is that I admire Neil Armstrong more than anyone and I always will.

  • Timothy Sinquefield July 21, 2013, 10:41 AM

    I am curious why he leased a salvage vessel from Norway and not the US? The lease rates and fuel costs would be cheaper from the US. There is a ship home ported in Cape Canaveral specifically designed to recover booster rockets from the shuttle.

  • JusMoney July 21, 2013, 9:55 PM

    yeah, it always pisses me off when i have to see that son of a bitch richard nixon talking to neil armstrong on the moon.

    • Penney Nile July 22, 2013, 4:13 AM

      Nixon always said he was not a crook…. well, he wasn’t called Trick Dicky for nothing! If EVER a President should have been impeached, it was HIM! (Followed closely by George Bush — son, not father).

      • Eric Bryce July 22, 2013, 8:20 AM

        Yeah Nixon didn’t mind jumping on the phone at that historic moment to steal some of the glory for himself. They would have surely impeached him if he hadn’t resigned.

      • Amerman July 24, 2013, 11:28 AM

        Worst POTUS?
        How about FDR, who gave us his 10 year First Democrat/socialist depression, Pearl Harbor after CIC for a decade, WW2, segregated military, and his racist Japanese internment?
        Or JFK, whose recklessness took us to the edge of thermonuclear war, sacrificed good men at the Bay of Pigs, and started the Vietnam war costing 58,000 US lives?
        Or LBJ, whose failed ‘great society’ cost $18 trillion and destroyed black culture and families?
        Or Barack Hussein Obama, who has added $10 trillion new bankrupting Democrat deficit on our kids, this Second Democrat/socialist depression, and the most divided/partisan politics in US history?

        • William Sparrow July 24, 2013, 10:45 PM

          Let me guess, you live in the American South, and self identify as a Christian Conservative. Am I close?

          • Amerman July 27, 2013, 10:56 PM

            You failed to acknowledge even a single presented fact, number, reality….. instead focusing on the messenger..
            Let me guess… liberal… Am I close?

        • Penney Nile July 25, 2013, 9:02 AM

          I agree with you on LBJ, but have to beg to differ with you on Kennedy ad Roosevelt.

          • Amerman July 27, 2013, 10:55 PM

            if you want someone to blame for WW2, at least put it in the right place…

            ===== =
            Democrat FDR was CIC for a FULL DECADE before we were forced into WW2….. a decade where Japanese and German arment and agression could have easily and cheaply been preempted and confronted … yet FDR did not, while FDR’s Depression made America look weak..

            FDR could have preempted WW2 but did not.. the result of that FDR failure was 60 million dead.

          • Penney Nile July 28, 2013, 11:13 AM

            *sigh* Sheep…..

          • Chris July 28, 2013, 10:39 PM

            FDR also gave military contracts to friends instead of picking the best aircraft, leading to countless American deaths (IMHO murders), flying inferior aircraft. Which continue to this day flying inferior commercial aircraft that cannot survive crashes and kill most everyone aboard.

          • lagrangia August 2, 2013, 2:35 PM

            To my forebears’ shame, Great Britain and France could have stopped Hitler at minimal cost in 1936 when he annexed the Rhineland with three divisions and a rudimentary air force. France had 100 divisions and we were her military allies.

            Even Hitler’s Generals were praying for us to stop them and call time on him ; in the event, we missed the chance, and the German military gave up , taking the notorious Fuhrer Oath.
            My late father always said that after WW1, no-one believed that Hitler, a man of the people who had served in the ranks with some gallantry, could be so mad as to risk another ruinous war. But then my father was a reasonable, scholarly man with little interest in psychiatry- who went on to serve with great gallantry in Special Ops.

            Many people should have read “Mein Kampf” in the 1920’s- he was a rare politician who went on to keep his promises to the letter. I can’t say I blame readers for flunking the ordeal- it was pretty much unreadable..I did try , aged 10, but it is really turgid.

            Today, however , Mein Kampf is most widely read in Arabic or Farsi; in the Middle East, it is the second best seller after the Koran…Interesting, huh?

    • Eric Bryce July 22, 2013, 8:20 AM

      Yes Nixon gave NASA an choice, (a)work with the Air Force on a space shuttle or(b) cease to exist. NASA chose (a) and the AIr Force requirements meant a much larger vehicle than NASA had been studying. A lifting body concept not unlike the one Steve Bezos is building now. Because of cross range landing requirements the Shuttle needed wings. The budget for STS was ridiculously low. Basic crew launch safety requirements were left out and 14 people died as a result. of two failures.

  • Eric Bryce July 22, 2013, 8:37 AM

    Once again NASA is an agency with no clear mandate. This week Congress voted to cancel any NASA asteroid mission and slashed it’s budget by one billion dollars , and instructing NASA to confine it’s studies of future plans to returning to the Moon or sending humans to Mars. If NASA had been permitted to it’s long range goals of further lunar exploration, upgraded landers and an eventual permanently manned lunar outpost Americans would be living on the Moon right now. Instead we wasted forty years farting around in low Earth orbit just so that the U.S. could have some kind of space program instead of moving forward. Our lunar base disappeared with the stroke of a pen when Nixon decided to veto the funding of another batch of Saturn Vs.

  • Amerman July 24, 2013, 11:05 AM

    Trayvon, Miami Gardens street fighting thug, was ‘innocent’ until he CHOSE to circle back, ambush, sucker punch, ‘ground and pound’ a much shorter, weaker, defenseless looking ‘sorry white assed cracker’.
    If Trayvon survives, he is arrested/convicted of aggravated assault/battery, and a hate crime.

    • William Sparrow July 24, 2013, 11:32 PM

      This is not the proper forum for this discussion, please comment on the article/subject at hand, or choose another site to offer your opinion. I’m interested in science and astronomy, and as such would like to see comments related to these subjects. Thanks in advance…..

      • Amerman July 25, 2013, 2:35 AM

        William… I agree not the proper forum, and I would not have introduced it….. but I did responded to tom linder’s previous post, rather than let untruths stand…
        Why didn’t you object to his post?

  • Amerman July 24, 2013, 11:11 AM

    The facts, testimony, including prosecution ‘star witness’ are that Trayvon reached his abode, then CHOSE to circle back and attack… Zimmerman had no ‘authority’..never tried to use any, never approached, confronted, or questioned Martin…

    Zimmerman was a neighborhood watcher guilty of ‘watching’

  • Amerman July 24, 2013, 11:20 AM

    Nasa promised a gullible Congress and America a $7 million per flight ‘cheap, safe, reliable access to space’ Shuttle…
    Then bloated, pork driven Federal Agency Nasa delivered a $1.6 trillion/flight boondoggle which killed 2 crew and had chronic and multi-year service outages..
    Nasa’s shuttle was the most unaffordable/unsustainable, dangerous, unreliable space vehicle in history..

    Blame failed big govt Nasa, not taxpayers, Congress, or anyone else.

  • Amerman July 24, 2013, 11:35 AM

    I don’t think the illegal immigrant LA gang members, or the recent Muslim Boston bombers are ‘von brauns’

  • Amerman July 24, 2013, 11:45 AM

    Taxpayers and Congress have handed Nasa $500 billion for US manned space in the 40 years since Apollo ended…

    Big govt, bloated, pork driven Federal Agency Nasa is doing what Govt ALWAYS DOES… Failing..with massive waste, pork, bloat.
    We need to downsize or eliminate Nasa, and instead use the NSF to fund Caltech’s JPL for probes, and private enterprise like SpaceX for boosters/capsules.

  • Justin Hartberger July 25, 2013, 3:15 PM

    This sort of sheeple statement gets really tiresome. Too many people are getting fed their opinions. I say this because your post about the ‘murder’ and referring to the stand your ground laws as absurd is practically a copy and paste from all the other sheeple facebook lawyers. You weren’t there, none of the other people who post this bullshit as ‘facts’ were there, and the defendant was acquitted by a court of law.

    I mean, you do realize that the ‘absurd’ law combined with the castle laws are there to protect you, yes? It’s not a get out of jail free card permitting someone to kill indiscriminately, they are specifically designed to allow a person to adequately defend themselves in need against an attacker. Such as if someone breaks into your home, etc. States without that ‘absurd’ law require you to show every possible effort to escape (if you can even escape) and just let them do as they please.

    Regardless, these things are only relevant and newsworthy because they provide good ammunition as distractions from the real issues. Cases such as this, Casey Anthony, and so on happen every single day. Why is this one and a few select others so much more important than all the others? Because they can inflame certain tensions. In this case, they saw an opportunity to play the race card since the person who was shot was black and the one that shot him wasn’t. Which the fact that the defendant didn’t even know what race the guy was at first when he spoke to 911 (as proven with the actual facts) negates it having any sort of racial motivation, but is conveniently ignored because then nobody can be offended by it.

    So where’s the big media attention and massive social outcry for the dozens upon dozens of other accidental deaths, murders, etc, that have happened since and are happening probably even right now? A waitress was followed home and brutally assaulted, blasted by a shotgun (died in the hospital) by 3 men for the 85 bucks she got in tips that night. That happened back in May of 2012. They could even have played the race card with that one since all 3 of the murderers (and this one is clearly and most-definitely murder) were black and the victim was white. But wait, that one clearly was a robbery and a murder, so no one can argue that it wasn’t. Though, and I hate to have to say this, I honestly imagine had the races been reversed it would have exploded all over.

    Derailment aside, Kfredrick has a valid point. People today are so desperate to be offended by the actions of other people that they will go any lengths to find it, even if it’s completely unjustified and fueled by lies and misdirection created due to intolerance.

    We used to innovate…now we’re too busy trolling each other on the internet, ensuring we’re following the latest ‘fad’ (though making sure to never admit that’s the real reason we’re wearing XX style or type of clothing or using phone YY), and ravenously hunting for reasons to be offended that we can’t be bothered to care about anything real.