July 22, 2013

Subsea Recovery of Historic Moon-landing Rocket Engine Achieved

Apollo 11 Engine Identification: Photo courtesy of Jeff Bezos blog

Apollo 11 Engine Identification: Photo courtesy of Jeff Bezos blog

Apollo 11 rocket engine part recovered, confirms Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who explains the find in the following extract from his blog:

When we stepped off the Seabed Worker four months ago in Port Canaveral, we had enough major components to fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines. We brought back thrust chambers, gas generators, injectors, heat exchangers, turbines, fuel manifolds and dozens of other artifacts – all simply gorgeous and a striking testament to the Apollo program. There was one secret that the ocean didn’t give up easily: mission identification. The components’ fiery end and heavy corrosion from 43 years underwater removed or covered up most of the original serial numbers. We left Florida knowing the conservation team had their work cut out for them, and we’ve kept our fingers crossed ever since.

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.

Forty-four years ago 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.

This is a big milestone for the project and the whole team couldn’t be more excited to share it with you all.

Note: The conservation work is being done under an agreement between Bezos and NASA. The space agency is retaining ownership of the artifacts and will ultimately decide where they go on museum display.



 

Jeff BezosApolloAmazon
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