AMAZON CHIEF Jeff Bezos claims to have located the long-lost rockets from the Apollo 11 launch in the Atlantic Ocean.
The five F-1 rocket engines were last seen falling back to Earth after propelling Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin into space on 16 July, 1969. The crew famously went on to become the first to land on the moon.
In a blog post yesterday, Bezos said that his team used deep sea sonar equipment to locate the engines some 14,000 feet below the ocean surface.
“We don’t know yet what condition these engines might be in – they hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years,” he said. “On the other hand, they’re made of tough stuff, so we’ll see.”
He says plans are underway to attempt to raise the engines from the seabed. If they manage to raise them, they will be handed over to NASA, whom Bezos hopes will then donate to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington or the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Bezos clarified that the attempt to raise the engines is being privately funded.
Over ten years ago, Bezos founded the space technology company Blue Origin which aims to cut the cost of sending people to space so that people can better explore the solar system.
“I was five years old when I watched Apollo 11 unfold on television, and without any doubt it was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering, and exploration,” Bezos said in his statement about the Apollo rocket engines. He added that he hopes efforts to recovery the Apollo 11 engines “can inspire a few more youth to invest and explore”.
(Rockets propel Apollo 11 into space in July 1969. Archive image: NASA)
In pictures: the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 >