Amazon’s Jeff Bezos wants to reclaim Apollo 11 space debris from Atlantic

29 Mar 2012

Apollo 11 Mission Insignia. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Amazon founder and space enthusiast Jeff Bezos has today issued a web statement, indicating how he is going to be working with undersea experts to recover the Apollo 11 engines that started humankind’s mission to the moon in 1969.

In the statement, which features on Bezos Expeditions, Bezos spoke about how he was five years of age when he watched the Apollo 11 mission unfold on TV in 1969. He said that, without a doubt, it was a big contributor to sparking off his passions for science, engineering and exploration.

The five Apollo engines plunged into the sea, as planned, minutes after lift-off in 1969. They were part of the Saturn V rocket that launched Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their moon mission.

Bezos wrote: “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?”

He said sub-sea experts have since used “state-of-the-art deep sea sonar” and have pinpointed the Apollo 11 engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface.

“We’re making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor,” he said.

“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.”

The engines still remain the property of US space agency NASA, however.

“If we are able to recover one of these F-1 engines that started mankind on its first journey to another heavenly body, I imagine that NASA would decide to make it available to the Smithsonian (the world’s largest museum and research complex, based in Washington, DC) for all to see,” wrote Bezos.

He said if the team is able to raise more than one engine, he has asked NASA if it would consider making the engines available to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Bezos also wanted to clarify that no public funding will be used to attempt to raise the engines. He said it would be a private undertaking.

“NASA is one of the few institutions I know that can inspire five-year-olds. It sure inspired me, and with this endeavour, maybe we can inspire a few more youth (sic) to invent and explore,” he added.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic