Sunday, April 7, 2013

APOLLO F-1 ENGINES SALVAGED FROM OCEAN FLOOR founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is a space buff. In addition to Amazon, he has also founded Blue Origin, an aerospace company working to develop technologies to lower the cost and increase the reliability of space craft and launch systems, with the goal of getting more people into space. Oh, and in his spare time, he managed to locate and retrieve some rocketry history from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

On 20 March, Jeff announced that he and his team on board the ship Seabed Worker were headed back to Cape Canaveral after three weeks at sea, having recovered parts from F-1 engines off the ocean floor at depths of nearly 4.3 kilometers. These engines are the most powerful single-nozzle liquid fueled rocket engines ever developed. A cluster of five of these behemoths were used to power the first stage of the Saturn V rockets that powered Apollo missions into space and eventually to the Moon. Bezos hopes that these particular engines came from the Apollo 11 mission that took astronauts Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to lunar orbit, and made Armstrong and Aldrin the first humans to reach the lunar surface.

Now on land, the recovered rocket engine parts will undergo restoration and identification efforts at the Kansas Cosmoshpere and Space Center, where they arrived on 25 March. The first step in the process will be to remove ocean debris and prevent further decay and corrosion at the Cosmosphere’s SpaceWorks facility. Once each part is stabilized, more detailed cleaning, documentation and conservation will begin. The artifacts remain the property of NASA. Though no final disposition is known yet, NASA and Bezos have proposed that the restored engines be displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C and at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.

Quick facts:
Intact F-1 engines were 5.6 meters tall and weighed over 8,000 kg.
The five F-1s in the first stage generated a combined 3.4 million kg/7.5 million pounds of thrust.
Those same five engines burned 15 metric tons of fuel per second.

Image credit: Bezos Expeditions


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