Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Funded An Expedition To Find What?
Answer: Apollo Rocket Parts
In March of 2012, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos announced that he was funding an expedition to the bottom of the ocean to find the remains of the powerful engines that pushed the Apollo rockets into space. Specifically, he wanted to find the massive F-1 engines that powered Apollo 11 and helped to put men on the moon. In his announcement he wrote:
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?
The answer to that inquiry is yes. With the right amount of money and expertise, you can find just about anything. A little over a year later, Bezos released another announcement:
When we stepped off the Seabed Worker four months ago in Port Canaveral, we had enough major components to fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines. We brought back thrust chambers, gas generators, injectors, heat exchangers, turbines, fuel manifolds and dozens of other artifacts – all simply gorgeous and a striking testament to the Apollo program. There was one secret that the ocean didn’t give up easily: mission identification. The components’ fiery end and heavy corrosion from 43 years underwater removed or covered up most of the original serial numbers. We left Florida knowing the conservation team had their work cut out for them, and we’ve kept our fingers crossed ever since.
Today, I’m thrilled to share some exciting news. One of the conservators who was scanning the objects with a black light and a special lens filter has made a breakthrough discovery – “2044” – stenciled in black paint on the side of one of the massive thrust chambers. 2044 is the Rocketdyne serial number that correlates to NASA number 6044, which is the serial number for F-1 Engine #5 from Apollo 11.
After restoration, the engines are on permanent display: one at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, the other one at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.