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]