Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Jeff Bezos To Retrieve Apollo 11 Rocket Engines

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:22AM (#39507699)

    Can we please go back to decent central funding of scientific endeavour - particularly in space - rather than all this stupid pet projects from people who got lucky and have more money than sense? The Soviets dragged themselves from backwater feudal estate to technocratic superpower in 20 years - and China similarly - because they understood the value of education and science. They didn't think that "the market" would advance them.

    • Why is the project stupid?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ArcherB (796902)

        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

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Megane (129182)
          Why must the only reason to recover it be to reverse-engineer it? (Besides, we already have projects like the J2X [wikipedia.org] for re-mainstreaming Saturn V technlogy.) Why must you ignore the possibility that the very act of recovering this historical object doesn't in itself advance science through developing the technology to recover it? James Cameron's "voyage to the bottom of the sea" improved deep-diving technology sufficiently that I'm sure more people will go down there in the next few years.
          • by ArcherB (796902)

            Why must the only reason to recover it be to reverse-engineer it? (Besides, we already have projects like the J2X [wikipedia.org] for re-mainstreaming Saturn V technlogy.) Why must you ignore the possibility that the very act of recovering this historical object doesn't in itself advance science through developing the technology to recover it? James Cameron's "voyage to the bottom of the sea" improved deep-diving technology sufficiently that I'm sure more people will go down there in the next few years.

            Like I said, the only value in recovering these engines is pure nostalgia. Sure, there may be tech gained from the recovery operation itself, but this could just as easily be gained by doing something productive, like figuring out a better way to seal deep water oil drilling leaks.

            Don't get me wrong, nostalgia has value, but there could be more nostalgia and tech gained by figuring how to raise the Titanic or Lusitania.

            • Jeff Bezos is searching to salvage the Apollo 11 first stage just like Howard Hughs was mining manganese nodules with the Glomar Explorer. In other words, this is just a cover story for some C I A escapade.
        • by fast turtle (1118037) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:16AM (#39508945) Journal

          Well there's the science angle of those engines seeing as how they were actually launched raising the questions of how the heat affected them, plus what affect did splash down have on them along with the affect of salt water on the hot/cold components. What kind of corrosion has the metal suffered over time? All sorts of questions like that are then able to be asked.

          To me, the inability to even think of questions to be asked/ivestigated proves just how well the educational system in the United States is reaching the goal of no-one being able to think for themselves as both the government and corps simply want consumers that are as dumb as rocks. No wonder Science has pretty much died in the States though we still have a few that are innovating but they're getting locked out by Patents and such as quickly as possible.

          • by Talderas (1212466)

            Exactly!

            We never asked these questions because we never had samples of the Saturn V rocket that were used, except for command modules.

        • by Vellmont (569020)

          The project is obviously about historic preservation, not science. Think it might be interesting to have the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria on display in a museum somewhere? How about the tools used to create the pyramids?

        • by Specter (11099)

          As a side note: if you ever get a chance to visit this exhibit, it is VERY impressive. It's hard not to stand next to this rocket and not be awed by the imagination required to conceive of, let alone build, this engineering marvel.

      • by dwye (1127395)

        The AC has a problem with anyone but him deciding where to spend money, and expects that the government will have his/her/its priorities.

        Seriously, this isn't science, it is treasure hunting for a more recent wreck than usual, but better documentation. To use a nerd analogy, this is buying Sir Alec Guinness's prop light saber hilt that he used in his death scene. Who wouldn't if they had the money? To use a car analogy, he is buying a Lambogini for the US (you CAN race them on closed tracks, or on the Bo

    • by rvw (755107)

      Can we please go back to decent central funding of scientific endeavour - particularly in space - rather than all this stupid pet projects from people who got lucky and have more money than sense? The Soviets dragged themselves from backwater feudal estate to technocratic superpower in 20 years - and China similarly - because they understood the value of education and science. They didn't think that "the market" would advance them.

      Traveling faster than light - think about that! With one-click of course, the books are here before you know it. That would advance science and generate money for his business as well.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      Yes, the Soviet Union is the model for becoming a technocratic superpower, if you don't mind the purges, wars, inability to produce food and a disregard for the environment or public health that would give any capitalist a run for their money. And then there's China, which really is another case of "superpower at any cost".

      Hell, if I enslaved the entire population of Earth and pointed them at that purpose, we'd already be on Mars. Probably with a colony or two. Why? Because I wouldn't have to care if a

    • by k6mfw (1182893)

      Yes, I also see this as rich people inspired by what we used to be able to do (send a man to the moon) and now spend lots of time and money on salvaging/restoring things of the past. I wonder who will inspire the next gen of Jeff Bezos now that USA no longer has a HSF that will match capabilities of Apollo and Shuttle (they are "working" on this but damn the funding is tight and the schedules long).

      Excellent observation about Soviets and China you mentioned there.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    At what point would they be considered abandoned?

    I mean sitting at the bottom of an ocean for 40 years and its not like a fiber optic cable whose purpose is to be laid over great distances, so at what point can some one else claim them?

    I want them to go some where like the Smithsonian, but I'm shocked that Jeff Bezos wouldn't have a cliam.

    • 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.

    • by rossdee (243626)

      Not so long ago some underwater treasure hunters retrieved gold from a spanish shipthat was at the bottom of the ocean for centuries. The Spanish Govt sued and got their treasure back, so I think it would be a good idea to get the permission of NASA before going after it.

      Anyway I agree that there would be better ways Bezos could spen his money in order to further space exploration.

      I think that congress should rewrite NASA's charter (or whatever it is called) to allow individuals and companies to make tax fr

  • by master_p (608214) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:24AM (#39507717)

    The good side: it allows private corporations to do things like this.

    The bad side: it puts money in the hands of the few.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The good side: it allows private corporations to do things like this.

      The bad side: it puts money in the hands of the few.

      Yes, because the Walmart-after-10pm crowd would definitely put that redistributed wealth to good use.

    • by Nutria (679911) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:40AM (#39507855)

      The bad side: it puts money in the hands of the few.

      As opposed to communism, which (in reality not theory) puts money in the hands of the... few?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Who said anything about communism?

      • Communism: a system of government rarely practised but often aspired to, not to be confused with the Socialist system as practised in the Former Soviet union and China ...

        • You're correct. More 'pure' forms of Communism have been practiced in non-revisionist places than in the corrupt old USSR (since Stalin died and it all went 'rotten'.) Albania had a pretty good show going for awhile there. And North Korea is still pretty ideologically pure....

    • The bad side: it puts money in the hands of the few.

      Jeff is probably a reasonable example of real capitalism - he works like mad, and he's really smart.

      I'm wasting time on Slashdot at 12:47 AM - I would never expect to be rewarded with money for that kind of behaviour. Oh, but the UPS man arrived at my office today with a label tape cart from his warehouse that I ordered Monday night - actual shipping cost $1. That's genius.

      Crony capitalists, on the other hand, deserve an extra special layer of hell. An

  • by stoofa (524247) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:24AM (#39507719)
    Most customers:
    • Raised the Titanic
    • Discovered Atlantis
  • by Anonymous Coward

    to save the amazon?

  • There were a total of 13 Saturn V launches from 1967 to 1973. I'm not sure that even NASA knew *exactly* where the spent stages dropped, as they would have been tumbling down without parachutes, and no need for recovery beacons as used with the shuttle SRBs.

    Once the engines are raised, the serial numbers will tell what mission they came from, assuming the serial numbers have survived 40 years on the ocean floor.

  • It will be a strange feeling when they pull >40 year old engines from the bottom of the ocean, but I bet that will be nothing compared to the next people to get back to the moon and visit and Apollo landing site. At the most optimistic they will be nearly 60 years old by then...

    It's going to be very odd seeing a lunar lander with only the most basic computer system and nothing we would recognise as a display. Big flip switches and filament bulbs.

  • Cue the idiots who will claim it was all faked in 3, 2, 1....
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's be very clear about something. Anything claimed by the ocean is subject to maritime salvage laws/rights.

    • Yes, and under international maritime law, the salvor has a claim to a reward for recovering the property, but not to the property itself.

  • Now I guess we know why he can't afford benefits or safe working conditions for amazon fulfillment center workers.

  • by hackertourist (2202674) <<ln.tensmx> <ta> <tsiruotrekcah>> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:51AM (#39508671)

    Having seen a couple of aircraft wrecks that have been salvaged, all they'll be able to retrieve is a hunk of junk. Restoring them to a state that's useful for exhibition will mean rebuilding most, if not all, of it. If that's the case anyway, why not borrow NASA's blueprints and build a replica or two?
    As an added bonus, the replica materials can be chosen to be easier to work with than the originals, since you're not going to build flightworthy examples. E.g. replace titanium with aluminium.

    • by sporkboy (22212)

      Tacking onto this, it's not like it's lost technology that needs to be rescued, or the only extant examples. I saw a full set of these engines on display in Houston in their Saturn V exhibit.

      Which, btw, I highly recommend to any space geeks, the scale of it is pretty awesome up close.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        I grew up in Houston, trips to Johnson were almost every weekend. I did get to sit in one of the Lunar modules. I have pics of it somewhere as well. This was back when they encouraged you to touch things there.
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Catmeat (20653) <mtmNO@SPAMsys.uea.ac.uk> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:20AM (#39510207)

      Having seen a couple of aircraft wrecks that have been salvaged, all they'll be able to retrieve is a hunk of junk.

      Having seen pictures of World War 2 aircraft, recovered form the sea after 70 years, that looked like the only restoration needed was to hose off the mud and straighten the propeller (see image [luftwaffe.no]), I'd say neither of us have any real idea what condition they'll be in.

      Basically, it's all about what angle the S-I stage hit the water 40 years ago. Cold deep sea is comparatively kind to aircraft alloys, although post-recovery conservation is a massive problem.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        That pic is a far cry from spraying it off. You don't know what kind of shape the airframe is in. I'd imagine that plane got a total tear down to the last rivet.
    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      You could say the same about an old muscle car. It's not about the end result, it's more about the history that's preserved.
  • 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

    If they are in international waters aren't they subject to maritime salvage law? How can they be the property of NASA, if they knew where they were and never retrieved them, why would they still belong to NASA is raised?

    • If they are in international waters aren't they subject to maritime salvage law? How can they be the property of NASA, if they knew where they were and never retrieved them, why would they still belong to NASA is raised?

      Because that's what international maritime salvage law actually says. Someone who salvages your property can claim a reward for recovering your property and establish a lien on it in order to get the reward, but neither the recovery nor the lien makes the property theirs.

  • I've been thinking for a long that if I won an absurd amount of lottery money, I'd use some of it to retrieve the "stage zero" engines from an Atlas launch and put'em in my den. My own space-age artifact! Of course, the wife would say, You're going to put what in here???"

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.

Working...