Amazon founder locates lost moon mission engines

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says he's found the five engines from the Apollo 11 spacecraft, deep beneath the Atlantic, and plans to bring at least one to the surface.

The Apollo 11 mission lifted off on July 16, 1969, taking human beings to the moon for the first time. The five F-1 engines of the Saturn V rocket - still the largest launch vehicle ever built by the US - fired for a few minutes only before falling back, as planned, into the ocean.

"A year or so ago, I started to wonder, with the right team of undersea pros, could we find and potentially recover the F-1 engines that started mankind's mission to the moon?" says Bezos.

Using state-of-the-art deep sea sonar, his team has now found the 32-million-horsepower engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface, and is planning an attempt to raise at least one.

"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," says Bezos. "On the other hand, they're made of tough stuff, so we'll see."

While Bezos is funding the mission himself, the engines, if they can be raised, will remain the property of NASA. Bezos says he very much hopes that NASA will be persuaded to hand it over to the Smithsonian for display; and that if he's successful in raising a second engine, that it could be given to the Museum of Flight in his home city, Seattle.

"NASA is one of the few institutions I know that can inspire five-year-olds," he says. "It sure inspired me, and with this endeavor, maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore."

Deep sea exploration is certainly having its moment. This week, Hollywood director James Cameron made an expedition to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench.

And with next month marking the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, researchers have been examining the wreck in greater detail than ever before.