Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced Wednesday that his team, Bezos Expeditions, successfully recovered some of the remains of the F-1 engines that powered the Saturn V rocket, the workhorse of the Apollo lunar missions in the 1960s and 1970s.
“We found so much. We’ve seen an underwater wonderland — an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program,” Bezos wrote on his website Wednesday.
His team used remotely operated vehicles at a depth of more than 14,000 feet, tethered via cables to a ship on the surface, to recover major components of two flown F-1 engines. Five F-1 engines were used in the first stage to lift the Saturn V rocket, generating 7.5 million pounds of thrust needed to lift it from the launch pad.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden congratulated Bezos and his team on the successful recovery.
“Nearly one year ago, Jeff Bezos shared with us his plans to recover F-1 engines that helped power Apollo astronauts to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” he said in a statement. “We share the excitement expressed by Jeff and his team in announcing the recovery of two of the powerful Saturn V first-stage engines from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
“This is a historic find and I congratulate the team for its determination and perseverance in the recovery of these important artifacts of our first efforts to send humans beyond Earth orbit,” he added.
Over 40 years later, the F-1 engine remains the most powerful American liquid-fuel rocket engine ever developed, holding the record as the largest single-chamber, single-nozzle liquid fuel engine ever flown. NASA is again looking to use a similar rocket design for the next heavy-lift launch vehicle, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
Photo from the sea floor:
Photo of what the engines looked like, via NASA:
Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site’s coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.