Bear with me, LI readers – I’m a little bit of a geek, so I find stories like these exciting.  It might not be of interest to everyone, but I do think there’s one point about it that will resonate with all of you.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos started Bezos Expeditions (as well as the space exploration venture Blue Origin) out of his “passions for science, engineering, and exploration.”

Bezos, like so many others, watched Apollo 11’s launch from his television as a child in 1969.  Days prior, the mission began when five F-1 rocket engines fired together in a test by NASA, then landed in the ocean after passing that test successfully.

The Amazon founder pondered, “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?”

In short, the answer is YES!

Bezos posted an update to his website today, announcing that one of the components his expedition team scooped from the ocean’s depths – they collected enough to “fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines” – has been confirmed as that of Apollo 11’s F-1 engine #5.

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. 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.

44 years ago tomorrow Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, and now we have recovered a critical technological marvel that made it all possible. Huge kudos to the conservation team at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas. Conservation is painstaking work that requires remarkable levels of patience and attention to detail, and these guys have both.

The discovery is a reminder of one of America’s most shining moments in the history of the world, when man walked on the moon.

And it comes at just the right time, as Bezos points out above.

From NBC News:

The age of the moonwalkers began on July 20, 1969, when Armstrong and crewmate Buzz Aldrin took humanity’s first small steps on the lunar surface. Since then, four of the 12 men who walked on the moon have passed away. The youngest of those who remain — Apollo 16’s Charlie Duke — is 77.

I can’t even fathom the excitement that Bezos and his team are feeling today.  They’ve apparently discovered a piece of great American history.  Congratulations to them.


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