The founder of Amazon has discovered the five engines that were used to launch the first manned mission to the Moon. Jeff Bezos says he now intends to raise at least one of the engines from the depths of the Atlantic.
We’ve previously covered Bezos’ project to build a 10,000 year clock in a cave a day’s hike from the nearest Texan town. It turns out that it isn’t the only way he has used estimated $18 billion fortune to fund his curiosity.
Bezos says that around a year ago he decided to start hunting for the F-1 engines that helped the Apollo 11 craft leave Earth and allow Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to step on to the Moon. The craft took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and, just a few moments later, shed the engines somewhere over the Atlantic.
He has now announced 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.”
According to Bezos there’s no way to tell yet what condition the engines will be in, noting both the velocity of their plummet into the ocean and the effects of 40 years’ exposure to salt water won’t have helped.
Although the mission to recover an engine will be entirely self-funded, Bezos is clear that it would remain the property of NASA. He says that if he can recover an engine, it would likely wind up in the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum, which already houses more than 100 artifacts from Apollo 11, ranging from the command module to the equipment used to collect and transfer the crew’s waste material.
Bezos says that if he’s able to bring up multiple engines, he will request that one is put on display at the Museum of Flight in his home city of Seattle.