Science & Environment

Apollo rocket engines recovered by Bezos team

Apollo-era image of F1 engine
The F1 remains the most powerful single-nozzle liquid-fuel engine ever used

Two long-lost engines from Apollo-era rockets have been hauled from a depth of more than 4km in the Atlantic Ocean.

The F-1 engines are from the first stage of a Saturn V rocket, which were used throughout the Apollo programme and some of which launched men to the Moon.

A number of engines were first found nearly a year ago by Bezos Expeditions, run by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The two recovered engines will now be restored and put on public display.

The F-1 was a workhorse engine for the US space agency Nasa as the most powerful single-chamber liquid-fuelled engine ever developed. Five F-1 engines sat at the bottom of the Saturn-V rockets used throughout the Apollo programme.

After three weeks at sea, the Bezos Expeditions team recovered two such engines using remotely-operated vehicles.

Because the engines' serial numbers are partially missing, it remains unclear which Apollo mission they are from - that may become clearer during restoration.

The engines were first spotted in March 2012
Other rocket structures were also spotted
However, the team has focused on retrieving the engines
Mr Bezos has described the F-1 engine as "a modern wonder"
The two recovered engines will now be restored fully
Further work may show which Apollo mission they are from

Mr Bezos is a long-time space enthusiast and also leads Blue Origin, one of a number of private spaceflight firms aiming to drastically reduce the costs of spaceflight.

"We've seen an underwater wonderland - an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program," Mr Bezos wrote in a blog post from the ship Seabed Worker, now on its way back to Cape Canaveral.

"Each piece we bring on deck conjures for me the thousands of engineers who worked together back then to do what for all time had been thought surely impossible."

Nasa administrator Charles Bolden released a statement congratulating the team, saying: "This is a historic find and I congratulate the team for its determination and perseverance in the recovery of these important artefacts of our first efforts to send humans beyond Earth orbit."

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