Jeff Bezos Locates Apollo 11 Rocket Engines, Wants to Recover Them

By Norman Chan

The Amazon CEO has spent the past year searching for these giant F-1 engines on the ocean floor.

Jeff Bezos is no stranger to eccentricity and obsession. The billionaire CEO Amazon.com grew the online store by being obsessed about its customers, and taking risks like entering the e-book hardware and more recently the tablet business. Bezos' personal interests, though are just as interesting. He was a notable early proponent of Dean Kamen's Ginger project, which of course became the Segway--a product that was never able to achieve mainstream success. Last year, he donated $10 million to build a new Center for Innovation wing of the Seattle Museum of History & Industry. And yesterday, he announced his plans to recover Apollo 11's F-1 rocket engines from the ocean floor.

In a post on his Bezos Expeditions website, the renegade Billionaire explains:

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.
Photo Credit: NASA's Project Apollo Archive

If recovered, the engines would still be owned by NASA, but Bezos hopes that the agency would allow one of the rockets to be donated to the Museum of Flight in Bezos' hometown of Seattle. The F-1s were the engines used in the Saturn V launch rockets for the Apollo program. Saturn V rockets had five F-1 engines, each 19 feet tall and weighing over 18,000 pounds.