Amazon founder Bezos finds Apollo 11 engines on sea floor

Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:07pm EDT
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By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Space enthusiast and entrepreneur Jeff Bezos has found the rocket motors used to send the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon and plans to mount a recovery expedition soon, the CEO and founder reported on a blog post.

The five F-1 engines were fired up on July 16, 1969, sending the massive Saturn 5 rocket on its way to the moon. The motors burned out a few minutes after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center and tumbled into the Atlantic Ocean.

Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins flew on into the history books, becoming the first humans to reach the moon.

"I was 5 years old when I watched Apollo 11 unfold on television, and without any doubt it was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering, and exploration," Bezos, the founder of and the Blue Origin rocket company, wrote in his blog on Wednesday.

"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?" he wrote.

Using a deep-sea sonar scanner, Bezos' team found the engines on the sea floor, some 14,000 feet below the surface.

"We're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them," Bezos said.

"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 said.   Continued...

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos holds up the new Kindle Fire at a news conference during the launch of Amazon's new tablets in New York, September 28, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton