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Space Science

Jeff Bezos To Retrieve Apollo 11 Rocket Engines 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the with-only-a-wetsuit-and-a-pair-of-flippers dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "AFP reports that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos plans to retrieve the F-1 engines that rocketed astronaut Neil Armstrong and his crew toward the moon in 1969. 'We're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor,' Bezos wrote in his blog at BezosExpeditions.com. '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.' Bezos wrote that he was five years old when Armstrong made history during the Apollo 11 mission by becoming the first person to set foot on the moon, and 'without any doubt it was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering, and exploration.' Bezos stressed that he is using private funds to try to raise the F-1 engines from their resting places 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, and that they remain the property of NASA. 'I imagine that NASA would decide to make it available to the Smithsonian (National Air and Space Museum) for all to see.' Bezos's efforts come just days after Titanic director James Cameron became the first person in 40 years to descend to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the ocean's deepest point, in a privately-funded expedition."
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Jeff Bezos To Retrieve Apollo 11 Rocket Engines

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  • by JazzHarper (745403) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:52AM (#39507971) Journal

    No. Under admiralty law, the objects remain the property of the original owner forever, unless that owner has formally abandoned claim to them. The salvor may claim a reward for recovering the property, but not the property itself.

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:55AM (#39508017) Journal

    Why is the project stupid?

    Well, for one thing, there is a real, complete Saturn V rocket sitting in a large hanger in Houston. It was built and ready to launch when the Apollo program was cancelled. So even if we needed to look at one, we could simply go there and see one in more or less pristine condition. However, the rocket in Houston did sit outside for decades exposed to the elements, so it's not like they can stand it up, refuel it and send it up. It's there for whatever other purposes you could need and it has not been on the ocean floor for the past 40 years. Whatever you could gain from bringing up the ones that were launched could be achieved better and more efficiently from the rocket in Houston. The only value the engines on the ocean floor has is purely nostalgia.

    It's always been a dream of mine to see the Saturn V's reenter production and start flying again. I believe it was by far the best rocket engine system ever created.

  • by JazzHarper (745403) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:14AM (#39508253) Journal

    Maritime law does not work like that. There is no time limit. The owner must make a formal declaration of abandonment. NASA has not abandoned title to these engines. The salvor is entitled to a reward for recovering them, but cannot claim ownership of them.

  • by JazzHarper (745403) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:26AM (#39508371) Journal

    Under international maritime law, the objects remain the property of the original owner forever, unless that owner has formally abandoned claim to them. The salvor may go to court to claim a reward for recovering the property, but is not entitled the property itself.

  • Re:Strange feeling (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:26AM (#39508389) Homepage

    Well, the ascent stages DID crash back to the moon after the crew redocked with the CSM, then jettisoned the ascent stage.

    They didn't end up back at the landing sites, though.

  • by JazzHarper (745403) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:02AM (#39508789) Journal

    That's what the courts (or arbitrators) are for. It is up to the court to decide what the amount of the reward will be, based on a long list of factors set out in the International Convention on Salvage (1989). Typically, the reward will be less than 50% of the value of the property recovered, although it can be more for sunken treasure. The salvor does not need to have (and in fact, must not have) a pre-existing agreement with the owner to have a pure (or "merit") salvage claim.

    In general, if the owner of the vessel refuses to pay the reward arising from a successful salvage, the court can seize the property and order it to be sold at auction to satisfy the claim. Of course, there can be lots of details and exceptions in specific cases.

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