Apollo 11 Launch

Apollo 11’s Rocket Engines Found on the Bottom of the Ocean

Article written: 28 Mar , 2012
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015


Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has located the Apollo 11 F-1 rocket engines and plans to recover them. “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 on the Bezos Expeditions website. “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.”

Bezos said that about a year ago he was thinking of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission and wondered if the F-1 engines that started the seminal mission to the Moon could be located.

The Saturn V used five F-1 engines in the first stage. The F-1 is still the most powerful single-chamber liquid-fueled rocket engine ever developed, producing one and a half million pounds of thrust, burning 6,000 pounds of rocket grade kerosene and liquid oxygen every second. On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 was launched and the five F-1s burned for just a few minutes, and then plunged back to Earth into the Atlantic Ocean.

Even though the engines remain the property of NASA, Bezos hopes that the space agency would allow the recovered engines to be displayed at the Smithsonian or another museum.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Bezos pointed out that no public funding will be used to attempt to raise and recover the engines, as it’s being undertaken by him privately.

Bezos said he’ll keep everyone posted on the progress of the recovery of these engines.

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20 Responses

  1. gopher652003 says

    I’d rather he dump the money this would take into Blue Origin, and hire some engineers who have a clue what they’re doing:P.

  2. hionthemountain says

    they must be worth a pile of cash just in recyclables value alone, but since NASA still retains ownership the effort is a gamble . . . maybe a huge waist of money . .

  3. Mastercope says

    No, NASA will let this go as there is no private ownership and profitability if they go as told to museums there will be good vibes all around. Like Mr. Bezos said it will inspire a new generation of youth, Even one, maybe another Werner Von Braun, or Elon Musk, or many other notables, just only one could change the future. Let it be done.

  4. Superluminal2 says

    How does he know for sure that these are Apollo 11’s engines? From the mid 60’s to early 70’s the were about 15 Saturn V launches, counting test flights. They all should have crashed in about the same area. Does NASA keep up with the exact locations of every burnt out stage that drops into the Atlantic?

  5. Skipdallas1 says

    Doesn’t International Maritime Law come into play here? Would not these engines be considered abandoned? I agree that if they are recovered, their place is in a museum. And I wish everyone connected to this effort all the best.

    • The Bobs says

      I too am skeptical of NASA’s claim to have retained ownership of these engines.

      • Shootist says

        Why? The US Federal Court just gave Spain back a bunch of gold lost in a storm, long, long ago. Gold found by salvagers, who lost the salvage rights after salvaging everything.

        It is verra sad.

  6. Robert Gishubl says

    I would prefer they stay together as much as possible, if they need to cut anything to recover an engine please just take photos and leave them where they are. Ithey can come out without any damage that would be great.

  7. You know, I never hesitate to tell people how to spend their own money, but really? This is the best thing Bezos can do with all that cash? Whatever, but I think he can inspire more people by pumping that into some privately funded planetary science.

    • Member
      squidgeny says

      Most people with an inordinate sum of money like to spend it on cars and houses, boats and jets. We’re lucky he did something, anything to do with the space program.

      Are you complaining because what he did wasn’t space program enough?

  8. Hydargos says

    @MartinHajovsky: listen, I bought a fully functional, Osborne-1 computer with original disks and manuals last week for 40 bucks. 🙂

  9. bugzzz says

    These will be on sale on eBay shortly. I know he owns amazon but eBay is the better joke. Poetic license. Work with me here folks.

  10. Jeff Bezos should concentrate more on going up rather than going down.

  11. Typhon1 says

    Maybe he could spend his money on other projects but these engines are pieces of history. Who wouldn’t want to see them ‘rescued’?

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