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Amazon CEO recovers Apollo engines from Atlantic

By Alicia Chang

AP Science Writer

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:43 p.m. HST, Mar 20, 2013


LOS ANGELES » Rusted pieces of two Apollo-era rocket engines that helped boost astronauts to the moon have been fished out of the murky depths of the Atlantic, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos and NASA said today.

A privately funded expedition led by Bezos raised the main engine parts during three weeks at sea and was headed back to Cape Canaveral, Fla., the launch pad for the manned lunar missions.

"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," Bezos wrote in an online posting.

Last year, the Bezos team used sonar to spot the sunken engines resting nearly 3 miles deep in the Atlantic and 360 miles from Cape Canaveral. At the time, the Internet mogul said the artifacts were part of the Apollo 11 mission that gave the world "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Bezos now says it's unclear which Apollo mission the recovered engines belonged to because the serial numbers were missing or hard to read on the corroded pieces. NASA is helping trace the hardware's origin.

Apollo astronauts were launched aboard the mighty Saturn V rocket during the 1960s and 1970s. Each rocket had a cluster of five engines, which produced about 7 1/2 million pounds of thrust. After liftoff, the engines — each weighing 18,000 pounds — fell to the ocean as designed, with no plans to retrieve them.

Bezos and his team sent underwater robots to hoist the engines, which are NASA property. In a statement, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden called the recovery "a historic find."

Bezos plans to restore the engine parts, which included a nozzle, turbine, thrust chamber and heat exchanger. Amazon.com Inc. spokesman Drew Herdener declined today to reveal the cost of the recovery or restoration.

NASA has previously said an engine would head for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. If a second was recovered, it would be displayed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where Amazon.com is based.

The ocean floor off Cape Canaveral is strewn with jettisoned rockets and flight parts from missions since the beginning of the Space Age. What survived after plunging into the ocean is unknown.

In one of the more famous recoveries, a private company in 2009 hoisted Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule that accidentally sank in the Atlantic after splashdown in 1961. The capsule is now featured at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Besides running the online retailer, Bezos founded Blue Origins, one of the companies with a NASA contract to develop a spaceship to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

In a previous posting, Bezos said he was inspired by NASA as a child, and by recovering the engines "maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore."







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SueH wrote:
There are people who are homeless and hungry, without any education or hope for the future, and Bezos is squandering money dredging up corroded and useless metal from the ocean floor. Maybe his next project will be gold-plating toothpicks for the olives in his martinis. Wonderful.
on March 20,2013 | 04:06PM
kailua1980 wrote:
"NASA has previously said an engine would head for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. If a second was recovered, it would be displayed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where Amazon.com is based." "In one of the more famous recoveries, a private company in 2009 hoisted Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule that accidentally sank in the Atlantic after splashdown in 1961. The capsule is now featured at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center." Sorry, SueH, maybe you're having a bad day or something you bought from Amazon did not work they way wanted it to, but what exactly do you think museums exist for other than to educate? The variety of artifacts and presentations give many young folk inspiriation and hope for the future. Take some kids to the Bishop Museum to see the travelling display of the 442nd's Congressional Medal, championed by the Smithsonian Museum. Some of the men that served are LIVING artifacts that can tell the story of heroism, bravery, and patriotism like no other. My son went, and was inspired to write a story about the 442nd's most famous member...Daniel K. Inouye.
on March 20,2013 | 04:44PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Clearly you have no clue as to how much this guy donates to charity each year. Please spend some time researching his endowments before making such comments.
on March 20,2013 | 05:30PM
pandadaddy wrote:
Since when do you get to decide how other people spend their hard earned money?
on March 20,2013 | 08:04PM
SueH wrote:
Geeze! Struck a nerve, did I? I still think he'd be the envy of his socialite gatherings if he had gold plated toothpicks. And BTW, I used to live in Seattle and have been to the Museum of Flight many times and have nothing against museums in general. I'm also well aware of his charitable contributions, but still don't think it's important to spend thousands of dollars dredging up old rocket engines from the sea floor, but whatever turns you on....... If that's the case, why stop at these engines? Why not dredge up every other piece of aviation or maritime junk resting on the sea floor? They all have some historical significance to some degree.
on March 20,2013 | 09:43PM
pandadaddy wrote:
So, it's not enough that the FEDS take half of his income in the form of taxes that get squandered into an abyss of whatever Obama thinks is a "just cause', that people like you think they should voice their opinion on the half of the earned income he's allowed to keep. Mind your own business.
on March 20,2013 | 10:27PM
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