After being lost for more than 40 years, the rockets responsible for launching the first humans to the Moon have been discovered. By Jeff Bezos.
Yes, that Jeff Bezos. The founder of Amazon just announced on his blog that, with the help of some "undersea pros," he's managed to locate the long-lost rocket engines from the Apollo-11 mission lying 14,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. And he wants to retrieve them as soon as possible.
Millions of people were inspired by the Apollo Program. 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. 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?
I'm excited to report that, using state-of-the-art deep sea sonar, the team has found the Apollo 11 engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface, and we're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor. 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. On the other hand, they're made of tough stuff, so we'll see.
Though they've been on the ocean floor for a long time, the engines remain the property of NASA. If we are able to recover one of these F-1 engines that started mankind on its first journey to another heavenly body, I imagine that NASA would decide to make it available to the Smithsonian for all to see. If we're able to raise more than one engine, I've asked NASA if they would consider making it available to the excellent Museum of Flight here in Seattle. (For clarity, I'll point out that no public funding will be used to attempt to raise the engines, as it's being undertaken privately.)
NASA is one of the few institutions I know that can inspire five-year-olds. It sure inspired me, and with this endeavor, maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore.
We'll keep you posted.
It's been an exceedingly good week for kajillionaires with a penchant for deep sea exploration, folks. I'm predicting Richard Branson announces the discovery of Amelia Earhart's perfectly preserved remains at the bottom of the Pacific by week's end.