July 21, 2013
Confirmed: F-1 Engines Discovered By Amazon.com Founder Were From Apollo 11
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The massive F-1 engines, which were located by Bezos' team off the coast of Cape Canaveral back in March, were said to be warped and covered in rust at the time of their recovery, according to Wired.com's Adam Mann.
At the time, that made it impossible to determine exactly which of the Apollo missions they had originated from. On Friday, however, on the eve of the 44th anniversary of the flight that made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin the first men to step foot on the moon, the F-1 engines had been identified.
After the rockets underwent an extensive cleaning process, one conservator at the at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center used black light and a special lens to locate the serial number 2044 stenciled in black paint at the side of one of the unit's thrust chambers.
That number is a Rocketdyne serial number that correlates to NASA number 6044, which happens to be the serial number for F-1 Engine #5 from Apollo 11, Bezos revealed at his expedition's official website. He called the discovery "exciting news," adding that his expedition had now "recovered a critical technological marvel" that helped make the landmark mission possible.
Bezos was inspired to search for the NASA artifacts due to his childhood fascination with the original moon mission, according to CNN reporter Elizabeth Landau. He discovered the F-1 engines, which powered the Saturn V rocket that carried Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins during the moon mission, submerged in 14,000 feet of water.
Shortly after locating the engine parts following a three-week-long recovery effort back in March, Bezos called the expedition an "incredible adventure" and wrote that the recovered artifacts were "gorgeous."
A few days later, NASA officials claimed ownership of the engines, and said that they would likely donate at least one of them to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington.
Even so, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued a statement at the time congratulating Bezos for his "historic" find and wishing the team "all the luck in the world" in their search for the Apollo 11 engines. The Amazon.com founder had requested that one of the engines be donated to the Seattle Museum of Flight.