Have Money, Will Explore: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Aims To Recover Lost Apollo 11 Engines

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a knack for using his considerable net worth in interesting ways — 10,000 Year Clock anyone? — but for space buffs like me, one venture in particular takes the cake. In a new post on the Bezos Expeditions website, he announced that he and his team of savvy undersea explorers have located the Rocketdyne F-1 engines that helped propel the crew of Apollo 11 on their historic voyage to the moon in 1969.

“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,” Bezos wrote. And now that the rockets have been located, Bezos is preparing to take the next logical step — bringing them back to the surface.

If he thought finding them was tough, I’d love to see how he and his team tackle the challenge of raising those from their watery grave. Each F-1 engine stood 19 feet tall and weighed over 18,000 pounds, and every Saturn V rocket came equipped with five of them. What’s more, some serious deterioration could’ve taken place during their nearly 43 year stint underwater, so who know how they’ll look should they survive the trip to the surface.

One thing puzzles me though — NASA conducted 13 launches with vehicles that used the Saturn V, which means that the sea floor plays home to more than a few F-1 rockets. Bezos seems very sure that the ones that he and his team have discovered are the ones from Apollo 11, though he doesn’t specifically mention how they can be so sure. Still, whatever the case, Bezos knows that the “finders keepers” approach doesn’t apply here — he admits that the engines are still NASA property, though he hopes that they’ll be willing to share at least one of the recovered rockets with Seattle’s Museum of Flight.

While definitely wild, this is far from the first instance of Bezos’s fixation on space — he founded the secretive Blue Origin in 2000, which eventually received NASA funding in exchange for help developing a commercial crew transport system (also referred to as a “space taxi”) for missions to the International Space Station.