A team led by Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has located the rocket engines that first sent people to the Moon, and plans to recover at least one engine from the depths of the Atlantic.
The Apollo 11 mission, which put astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface in 1969, took off with the aid of five F1 engines that plunged into the ocean after lift-off. On Wednesday, space enthusiast Bezos said his team had become the first to find the rockets.
Amazon chief Jeff Bezos wants to recover the rocket engines that first sent people to the Moon. Image credit: NASA
"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 [4.3km] below the surface, and we're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor," the e-commerce mogul announced on his Bezos Expeditions
"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," he added.
Bezos, who watched the Apollo 11 mission on TV as a five-year-old, said the engines were still the property of NASA and, if one engine were raised in his privately-funded endeavour, the space agency would most likely put it in the Smithsonian museum.
However, Bezos added that he had asked NASA to make the engines available to Seattle's Museum of Flight, if the team manages to raise more than one.
The Amazon founder has a well-documented fascination with space. His firm Blue Origin is trying to develop a commercial space-flight service and has made significant progress, although it suffered a setback last September when it lost a test vehicle.
The F1s, which powered Apollo 11's Saturn V launch vehicle, were the largest liquid-fuel rocket engines ever built and flown. Each stood almost six metres high and, without fuel, weighed just under 8,400kg. Their burn time was less than three minutes.