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Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Confirms Salvaged Engine is from Apollo 11

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Confirms Salvaged Engine is from Apollo 11

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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<<<—- This geek says:

That is awesome!

This retired aerospace wonk digs it. In my book, equally impressive was the brain-trust that brought the Apollo 13 crew home safe. Admittedly it’s bittersweet to look on the history of the US space program, when at the moment, our only way to space, is to hitch a ride on Soyuz. And our present leadership doesn’t have the vision to sustain the space program.

    walls in reply to MrE. | July 20, 2013 at 5:47 am

    There are more important things to do in life, sir. Obamaphones for all! Obamacare for all! American citizenship for all! And of course, justice for Trayvon.

TrooperJohnSmith | July 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Incredible find, but an even more incredible vision. And all without any government funding.

legacyrepublican | July 19, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Cool. I read about this sometime ago and hoped it would be the engine.

What an historic find. But I wish Neil Armstrong had been alive to see it.

The legal issues were and will be germane since government property usually isn’t subject to salvage law, unless declared ‘abandoned’. In this case the Kansas Cosmosphere [HIGHLY recommended for a full day visit] has experience both with curating recovered spacecraft [it restored Grissom’s MR-4 capsule that sank in 1961, and hosting them with federal permission. There are also Apollo-11 [and later] booster segments in deep space, cast off on the way out to the Moon. Some incoming ‘asteroids’ detected by Spacewatch sensors in recent years turned out to be such lost artifacts circling back after rounding the Sun. Best proof: spectral readings showed they were not only ‘white’, they were painted white as in GI flat white rocket exterior paint.

That’s just awesome.

‘Some incoming ‘asteroids’ detected by Spacewatch sensors in recent years turned out to be such lost artifacts circling back after rounding the Sun. Best proof: spectral readings showed they were not only ‘white’, they were painted white as in GI flat white rocket exterior paint.

Do you have a link? Thanks

ColonialGal | July 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm

I raise a glass of TANG to Jeff and the crew.
Sidenote: Dear Jeff,
Stop raising the cost of Andrew’s book.
Warmly, CG

Henry Hawkins | July 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Awesome indeed.

Now we await the inevitable troll who feels compelled to inform us the moon landing was faked.

Way cool.

Also heartbreaking when you realize that most, if not all of our glorious hardware from the space program will soon be relics.

I have been fortunate enough to work around engines from the Gemini program, early Apollo, on through to the last LR’s.

What most don’t understand is the leaps of engineering and design made in very short time frames.

This knowledge will be lost forever.

More proof to disprove the conspiracy nuts!

    fogflyer in reply to McCoy2k. | July 19, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    How would this disprove the conspiracy nuts?
    I don’t believe they say there was never a launch (I mean thousands of people saw the launch). I believe they just think it was unmanned and the footage that followed was fake.

    And yes, I DO believe we went to the moon 🙂

      Baker in reply to fogflyer. | July 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      I was one of 1,000’s of people who saw the launch in person. Over the years I have grown more proud and awed by that experience. Though I had absolutely no involvement in the process I felt honored to be a witness.

      There are actually very few specific events in the history of mankind that are completely unique in their nature and import. This event was obviously built upon countless other steps during the decades and even centuries preceding it and it was an event was fraught with difficulties and dangers. Even considering the challenges it was acknowledged as an accomplishment that would eventually transpire.

      This one event, however, marked a very specific dividing point in the history of mankind. This was the first time man would embark to set foot on a celestial body. Never had that happened before and it will never happen again.

      I congratulate Bezos and his team in recovering a ‘relic’ of that event.

Several months ago, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center retrieved a mothballed F-1 engine and test-fired its gas generator, a central component.

    Browndog in reply to Hank. | July 19, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Good stuff.

    MrE in reply to Hank. | July 20, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Worked at MSFC for 6 months in 1997 on the International Space Station. How I would have loved to witness that test firing. The guys who worked the launch team at the cape would describe the Apollo launches – how it fairly rattled their bones – and the pride of seeing them go up. I can only imagine, since I was young teen at the time. I wonder if we’ll ever have another inspirational president like JFK?

      Baker in reply to MrE. | July 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      I can attest to how it rumbled. I was there for the launch as just a civilian in Titusville. I think we were at least 5 miles away or perhaps a bit further. We could clearly see the rocket top to bottom on the pad even at that difference. After the ignition I can remember the billowing clouds of white smoke/vapor/etc. Very, very slowly we could see the rocket rise and soon we could see the fire of the engines.

      I remember wondering ‘Are we going to hear it?’ (After all we are more 5 or more miles away.) All of a sudden you could hear and feel it. The sound was so low that it was not so loud that it hurt your ears but it was powerful. It actually felt like the sound was pushing me backward. It was rumbling through the core of my body for seconds. And this was from at least 5 miles away!

      I can’t imagine how powerful it was to those actually on the site.

Plus 1 on the Cosmosphere! It is a great place to visit and see the technology in use at the time. The Mercury capsule was wired with automotive type connectors you can buy at any auto supply store. The Astronauts had big cajones!

KM from Detroit | July 20, 2013 at 12:18 am

My sister and her husband live down in Huntsville, AL, and we’ve visited the US Space & Rocket Center right there. All of the everything that went in to the design of the Saturn-V boosters and the Apollo capsules and shuttles and such was both detailed and dumbed-down for public consumption (as in, plenty of generalizations about how the motors worked, but obviously leaving out the actual rocket science).

It’s really awe-inspiring, especially considering this was all done in the 60s, before we had CAD and virtual modeling and all of our wonderful computer-driven toys to take care of half the heavy crunching.

Final note: “Rocketdyne” is probably the single best company name ever in the history of ever. They do serious work, but the name gives me the giggles every time. It’s just so…TYPICAL of 50s/60s science fiction 🙂

Given Bezo’s blindly funding ‘trendy’ leftist causes, will he one day fund a salvage of the original copies of Constitution and Bill of Rights from his heavily guarded compound?