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Apollo 11 rocket engine recovery confirmed

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July 20, 2013

Serial numbers on engine recovered from the Atlantic

Serial numbers on engine recovered from the Atlantic

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A lost bit of the Moon landing era isn't lost anymore. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos announced on Friday that one of the F-1 rocket engines found by his deep-sea expedition was indeed part of the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket that sent the first astronauts to land on the Moon in 1969. A conservator at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas, where the engine was being restored, was removing corrosion from the engine when he discovered evidence confirming the significant find.

Last March, Bezos Expeditions carried out a remarkable feat of industrial archaeology when it used underwater remote operated vehicles to recover F-1 rocket engines from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Brought from a depth of over 14,000 feet (4,200 m), these engines used on the first stage of the Saturn V were and remain the most powerful single-chamber liquid-fueled rocket engines ever developed.

According to Bezos, writing on the organizations website, enough components were recovered to create displays of two F-1 engines. These were comprised of back thrust chambers, gas generators, injectors, heat exchangers, turbines, fuel manifolds and other artifacts.

Serial number on engine picked out in UV light

Not surprisingly, they were in a pretty bad shape after being subjected to incredible temperatures during their few minutes of operation, dropping from the edge of space into the ocean, and then spending over four decades in salt water. Because of the combination of metal alloys involved in their construction, conservation is a difficult process, but the benefit is not only the preservation of priceless reminders of the Space Age, but also the opportunity of finding out which missions the engines came from.

The confirmation came when one of the conservators using a black light with a special lens filter found the numbers “2044” stenciled on one of the thrust chambers. Further work and removal of corrosion found “Unit No 2044” stamped on the base of the same chamber. 2044 is the Rocketdyne serial number, which corresponds to NASA number 6044. Long story short, that is the number for F-1 Engine #5 from Apollo 11.

In Friday’s announcement, Bezos praised the conservators saying, “Conservation is painstaking work that requires remarkable levels of patience and attention to detail, and these guys have both.”

Source: Bezos Expeditions

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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4 Comments

Unfortunately there is nothing here that will convince a conspiracy nut that Apollo 11 went to the moon. Taking them to the moon and showing them the landing sight would not convince them.

Slowburn
21st July, 2013 @ 10:53 pm PDT

That engine was intended for near-earth orbit only. It wasn't necessary for the space capsule to be lined with very thick lead walls because NASA cannot risk their astronauts to vomit and die past the highly-energized radiation belt. Thus, the F1 engine hadn't been powerful enough to safely land the astronauts to the moon ;) Aside from legendary Iron Man, none has yet devised a lightweight radiation shield material better than that of lead.

Julius Siador
22nd July, 2013 @ 08:26 am PDT

Was #5 the center engine of the first stage?

Gregg Eshelman
22nd July, 2013 @ 06:29 pm PDT

re; Julius Siador

How long do you have to be in the Van Allen belts to receive a lethal dose?

Slowburn
23rd July, 2013 @ 07:25 pm PDT
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