CAPE CANAVERAL, Calif. (UPI) — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says pieces of engines believed to be from the rocket that launched Apollo 11 to the moon have been recovered from the ocean floor.
Bezos began the effort last year to locate and recover the F-1 engines of the Saturn rocket that created the 1.5 million pounds of thrust needed to lift the Apollo capsule free of the Earth and send it on its way to the moon.
Five F-1 engines powered the Saturn’s first stage that plummeted into the Atlantic ocean after separation and settled to the seafloor, 3 miles beneath the ocean surface off the coast of Florida.
After three weeks at sea, Bezos is on his way back to Cape Canaveral with the priceless engines safely in tow, Mashable reported Wednesday.
The engines were located using state-of-the-art, deep-sea sonar.
“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,” he wrote in a posting on the Bezos Expedition website.
The expedition team said it has recovered enough major components to rebuild two Saturn V F-1 engines for display.
A total of 65 F-1 engines were using during the Apollo program from 1967 through 1973.
Bezos has acknowledged he is not yet certain the recovered engines are, in fact, from the Apollo 11 mission since the corrosion of the serial numbers will make it difficult to verify.
“We might see more during restoration,” Bezos posted.
NASA, which retains ownership of the engines, said one might be offered to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
“We look forward to the restoration of these engines by the Bezos team and applaud Jeff’s desire to make these historic artifacts available for public display,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement Wednesday.