In today’s edition of “super-rich guy goes on deep sea expedition,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced on his blog Wednesday that he and his team of aquatic experts have found the F-1 booster rockets that propelled Neil Armstrong’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon. The rockets were discovered in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Kennedy, Florida.
“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,” wrote Bezos. “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.”
Despite Bezos’ heavyweight e-commerce tycoon status, the Amazon executive admits that the rockets are “the property of NASA” even though “they’ve been on the ocean floor for a long time.” Bezos says he guesses that NASA will want to donate the artifacts to the Smithsonian, which would make them available for public viewing. He has also “asked NASA if they would consider making it available to the excellent Museum of Flight” in Seattle, Washington, where Amazon headquarters is located.
Bezos says that he has been inspired by the work of NASA since he was only 5-years-old, which is when the Apollo 11 mission launched the first men to the moon. In addition to the F-1 rocket recovery expedition, Bezos also runs a private spaceflight company, Blue Origin, which last year launched its second test vehicle. The Blue Origin spacecraft reached a height of about 45,000 feet before its thrust termination system activated, which resulted in the loss of the craft.
For anyone interested in checking out the F-1 engines now, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. has a few on display. Unfortunately, none of those particular engines actually flew, let alone helped land man on the moon.