F-1 in the deep

A Bezos Expeditions remotely operated submersible works to clear silt from a piece of an Apollo rocket engine.

40 year old rocket parts

Another piece of space history is approached by an ROV.

F-1 in the air again

A heat exchanger from a giant F-1 rocket engine sits in the air again 40 years after it was used and then lost in the ocean.


A turbine (presumably from a turbo pump) from an F-1 engine is examined by a worker.

Von Braun's engine

Wernher von Braun, one of the world's first and greatest Rocket Men, stands next to the F-1 engines at the foot of an Apollo rocket--the giant Saturn V.

F-1 fires again

NASA is testing parts salvaged from an original 1960s-vintage F-1 that was removed from a Saturn V rocket for technical reasons. The F-1's immense power may prove useful for future NASA missions across our solar system--including missions to Mars.

Historic Apollo Moon Rocket Engines Raised From Deep Ocean

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos finds a bit of space history.

When the giant Saturn V rockets that propelled Neil Armstrong and his colleagues to the Moon had done their brief but fiery job, they were simply left to tumble through the atmosphere. They then fell, discarded, into the Atlantic ocean, where all those millions of dollars of cutting edge tech bits just disappeared in the deep. But Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a penchant for rockets, and his team of deep ocean explorers--Bezos Expeditions--have, some 40 years later, found a few of the giant F-1 engines that propelled the Saturn Vs and hauled them to the surface.

The Rocketdyne F-1 engines were, and still are, an engineering marvel: When bolted to a Saturn V, each of the five engines had a nozzle that was about 12 feet across, and under full power each could deliver over 1.5 million pounds of thrust (the puny engine in Boeing's cutting edge new Dreamliner aircraft can only manage about 75,000 pounds for comparison). In fact, the F-1 is still the most powerful single-chamber liquid fuel rocket ever made, and NASA is busy testing one of the remaining original units to develop a next-generation version for future deep space flights.

Bezos plans to clean up the twisted parts and put them on display in two space museums in the U.S., hopefully to inspire future space entrepreneurs. His own commercial space efforts were inspired by Apollo, and his Blue Origin company is in the running to help NASA service its future manned and unmanned space efforts.

For a reminder of the awesome power of the F-1, spend a few minutes watching this slow-motion video of them in action 40 years ago.

[Image: Bezos Expeditions]

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  • Kit Eaton

    Beautiful isn't it? Imagine what it must've been like to hear that launch from nearby, and see a 360-foot-tall rocket slowly leap off the pad...