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Confirmed: F-1 Rocket Engine Salvaged By Amazon's Bezos Is From Apollo 11 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the does-it-qualify-for-free-shipping dept.
willith writes "The folks at Bezos Expeditions have confirmed that faintly visible serial numbers on one of the large engine components they lifted from three miles below the ocean's surface match the serial number of F-1 engine F-6044, which flew in the center position on Saturn V number SA-506 — Apollo 11. With the 44th anniversary of the first lunar landing coming up tomorrow, the confirmation comes at an auspicious time. The F-1 engine remains to this day the largest single-chamber liquid fueled engine ever produced — although NASA is considering using a newer uprated design designated as the F-1B to help boost future heavy-lift rockets into orbit."
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Confirmed: F-1 Rocket Engine Salvaged By Amazon's Bezos Is From Apollo 11

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  • does this mean his company can reverse engineer the rocket and sell the design to the highest bidder?

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      Unless the buyers are on a munitions restricted list.

    • Why would he have to reverse engineer it? The designs are property of the United States citizenry.
      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        So is the design for the B-1 Bomber and you can't sell that either.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I don't think they are selling weapons... You could build a B-1 with passenger seats and no radar-evading skin and sell it if you wanted.

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            Munitions designations are based on possible military uses not possible civilian uses. The fact that it could be used in an ICBM makes it a munition.

            • by decsnake (6658)

              Correct.

              Essentially all rocket and spacecraft technology is on the US munitions list, whether it makes sense or not.

              • by dbIII (701233)
                Wasn't a Sony Playstation, made by a company based in Japan and made in China, restricted by a court injunction due to an insane US munitions law? Wasn't another RSA encryption which meant the company had to base itself overseas if they wanted their stuff to be used by banks for international transactions? Didn't SuperMicro get in deep shit and have to pay a huge fine when their motherboards ended up in the wrong place (yet HP, IBM etc were let off in the same circumstances)? A lot of it doesn't make sen
            • The fact that it could be used in an ICBM makes it a munition.

              But seriously, why would anyone put a B-1 in an ICBM?

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Right, but he's building rockets [wikipedia.org] right now.

          • You could build a B-1 with passenger seats and no radar-evading skin and sell it if you wanted.

            In theory, yes. But in reality, I doubt you could, even if you had the financing. I'd guess many of the parts and materials you'd need would be withheld due to some "shortage", or something. I'm sure there is more to its design that is classified than the weapons systems and skin too. It would probably be even harder to be get permission to fly it. And with all of the restrictions and documentation needed to sell aircraft, it's very unlikely you could sell it.

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Well, let me amend that to say that in 44 years you could build it :)

              • So do you think you could build an SR-71 then? ;-)
                • by MightyYar (622222)

                  Oh, that would be awesome. I don't see why not... people buy and fly these old fighter jets. I don't imagine the plans are available, though.

                  • Oh, that would be awesome. I don't see why not... people buy and fly these old fighter jets. I don't imagine the plans are available, though.

                    Almost all US military jets are only sold as scrap and there are restrictions on selling the functional parts. F-104's are about the only jet plane that I know of that civilians own and fly in the US. I heard that one of the Blue Angels F-18's was sold as scrap but someone screwed up and did not issue the proper paperwork that limited it to being non-flyable. All of the other jet fighters that I'm aware of have been MIGs and other foreign built airframes. I'm not sure how it would work if you tried to build

          • You could build a B-1 with passenger seats and no radar-evading skin and sell it if you wanted.

            There was the Concorde already, not a very useful plane. It's like they made it and operated it (the french and british) just so that people can fap at it. A bit like the space shuttle. Waste of money and time.

        • Re:i wonder... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Kilo Kilo (2837521) on Friday July 19, 2013 @02:39PM (#44331339)
          No, the B-1 design belongs to Rockwell [wikipedia.org]. The F-1 design belongs to Rocketdyne [wikipedia.org]. Just because it was built for NASA, doesn't mean that NASA (or by extension, the American people) have any claim to the designs.
        • "Following the 'peace dividend' after the fall of the Soviet bloc, the company sold its defense and aerospace business, including what was once North American Aviation and Rocketdyne, to Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in December 1996."

          Fourth paragraph [wikipedia.org]

      • by perpenso (1613749) on Friday July 19, 2013 @02:08PM (#44330931)

        Why would he have to reverse engineer it? The designs are property of the United States citizenry.

        And contrary to urban myth the designs were not destroyed or lost. However while we may have blueprints we no longer have the tooling, the machines and tools that make the Saturn 5 parts. Nor do we have the hands on expertise. That is the real reason we don't just crank out some more of these rockets.

        • by AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) on Friday July 19, 2013 @02:55PM (#44331497)
          A fun anecdote to this - I have an uncle who works at NASA and he said that the engineers of today were trying to figure out how the engineers of the Apollo program had solved a particular kind of problem. No documentation existed, and no one still working there had been part of the original program, so they had to go over to their own space museum to tear apart a section of the rocket to see how they'd done it. There's a lot of experiential knowledge that comes with actually solving problems, rather than just using someone else's notes, and a lot of that kind of information was lost.
          • by perpenso (1613749) on Friday July 19, 2013 @03:14PM (#44331709)
            Yeah that personal knowledge is pretty important, as is the chain where one "generation" passes it on to the next. Not everything is in the blueprints or the manuals. That's the only reason 19 and 20 year old aviation mechanics in the US Air Force can keep a B-52 from the 1950s flying. Personal experience and tips passed on from a guy working on the B-52 since the 2000s, who received it from a guy who had worked on them in the 1990s, ... in the 80s, ... in the 70s, ... in the 60s, who got it from a USAF aviation mechanic from the 50s who worked side by side with the Boeing engineers and technicians who designed and built the B-52.

            While NASA does not have the benefit of such a chain of knowledge regarding the Saturn 5 the young engineers at NASA and subcontractors are sometimes able to bring in retired engineers from the 60s and 70s to pass on what they remember.
      • Why would he have to reverse engineer it? The designs are property of the United States citizenry.

        You can even find them on microfilm at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

      • by garyoa1 (2067072)

        Since when do we hold title to anything the gov does anymore?

    • Re:i wonder... (Score:5, Informative)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday July 19, 2013 @02:11PM (#44330955)

      does this mean his company can reverse engineer the rocket and sell the design to the highest bidder?

      Are you asking if he can reverse-engineer an entire Saturn V rocket because he recovered a used and damaged engine that was sitting on the bottom of the ocean for 44 years? Do you understand how large a Saturn V is? Here is a component view of the Saturn V [jleslie48.com]. That's not even a blueprint, not even close, it just shows where selected components are in the rocket. Look all the way at the bottom, at those engines, that's what he recovered. Why would you think he could reverse-engineer the rest of the rocket because he has an engine that has been corroding for 44 years?

      • does this mean his company can reverse engineer the rocket and sell the design to the highest bidder?

        Are you asking if he can reverse-engineer an entire Saturn V rocket because he recovered a used and damaged engine that was sitting on the bottom of the ocean for 44 years? Do you understand how large a Saturn V is? Here is a component view of the Saturn V [jleslie48.com]. That's not even a blueprint, not even close, it just shows where selected components are in the rocket.

        There's something wrong with that diagram. I don't see where the sea urchins, sponges, crabs and other organic life that was obviously used in the one they recovered.

      • by Jawnn (445279)
        Whoosh...
        • Yeah, right. There was no sarcasm in the post I responded to. Some people are legitimately clueless.

      • And at the bottom of the engine - that's a person. The scale of this achievement is awesome.
        - Someone who still remembers the Apollo-11 launch.
        • by cusco (717999)
          In 1980 I hitch hiked to Cape Canaveral to watch the third launch of Colombia. Outside the visitor center, baking in the sun, lay a Saturn 5. Inside was the Command Module, LEM and Rover from the same craft. I cried looking at them. All the hardware was bought, paid for and delivered, the crews trained, even the fuel had been delivered. All the expensive part of the project was paid for, all that remained was the least expensive part of the project, the actual launch and mission. The sponsors of the c
          • by sconeu (64226)

            That would be 1981, not 1980.

            • Took him a year to hitch hike across the country from California.
            • by cusco (717999)
              Ah, you're right. Moved to St. Pete in '80, and left at the end of the '80-'81 theatre season. My ferret and I hitched from St. Pete to Cape Kennedy (it was still called that), and watched the launch from Cocoa Beach. It was the only days off that I got between New Years and the end of the season in May. Moved from there to Seattle then, which was about as far as I could get from both Florida and Michigan without jumping off.
        • I was lucky enough to see the one on display at Kennedy. It's pretty impressive to walk through the doors and be met with this [jvc.com]. The first stage of that one is part of a test platform, but the second and third stages are from the vehicle that was designated for Apollo 18 or 19.

      • by dbIII (701233)

        engine that has been corroding for 44 years

        Some of those alloys used are such that a lot of those parts are going to look the same as new after four hundred years in seawater let alone forty years. The aluminium panels on the side will corrode in preference. Plus there's not a lot of oxygen deep in the ocean so corrosion is going to be very slow anyway - people are bringing up iron nails from ships four hundred years old that are in deep enough water.
        From what I've heard from a person that restored a sun

    • I think the main point is to mount this in Bezos' man cave next to the Labatt neon sign and pool table.
  • I wonder how corroded it is after all this time, I know they used some space age materials (heh) but With all the lost paperwork over the years. I wonder if there is anything to be learned from this new found treasure
    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday July 19, 2013 @01:42PM (#44330671)
      The problem is that back then, all the stuff was essentially hand-built. These days, you let CNC machines do the dirty work. That essentially means that while the geometry of the nozzle etc. is still valid, you can't simply manufacture old stuff the new way. So the "lost paperwork" probably wouldn't be all that helpful anyway. Also, if you want to learn from the Saturn V hardware, you don't need to learn to swim. [wikipedia.org]
      • by Anonymous Coward

        [I]f you want to learn from the Saturn V hardware, you don't need to learn to swim. [wikipedia.org]

        FWIW, they have one [wikipedia.org] at the Kennedy Space Center [wikipedia.org] Rocket Garden [wikipedia.org] too.

        Visiting was one of the great days of my life.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The problem is that back then, all the stuff was essentially hand-built. These days, you let CNC machines do the dirty work. That essentially means that while the geometry of the nozzle etc. is still valid, you can't simply manufacture old stuff the new way.

        You can simply manufacture old stuff the old way. There may be a shortage of machinists, but they aren't nonexistent.

        • The old way? You mean with computer-controlled CNC machines?

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1g1b_EeVHw&feature=player_detailpage#t=416s [youtube.com]

          1963.

        • There may be a shortage of machinists, but they aren't nonexistent.

          But I've read that this is precisely the problem: the old generation that worked on this retired (and partly died) without passing the skills to the new one.

          • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

            There may be a shortage of machinists, but they aren't nonexistent.

            But I've read that this is precisely the problem: the old generation that worked on this retired (and partly died) without passing the skills to the new one.

            While it would take some doing it could be done. Obviously, since it was done once. What is more likely is a sort of updated F-1, designed to make use of modern production methods, perhaps to even be reuseable.

            The Saturn 5 was an amazing, mighty machine. Our ability to produce something like that again is more dependent on the will to do so, than on our abilities. We have the ability to make even better Rockets now. The will? I think we are more geared to servicing stockholders than sending people to spa

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            There may be a shortage of machinists, but they aren't nonexistent.

            But I've read that this is precisely the problem: the old generation that worked on this retired (and partly died) without passing the skills to the new one.

            I can guarantee you could buy the parts, there's machining shops that can do the parts(and more), it would take a few years of course like buying anything so specialized. we(the west) could in few years ramp up production for some blackbirds too. it would just be very expensive, the top machinists and machining firms are busy producing parts for the jumbos, airbusses and other existing profitable paying real money projects.

            the problem is that it gets real, real expensive and you would have to run the test s

        • by dbIII (701233)

          There may be a shortage of machinists, but they aren't nonexistent.

          Those old retired machiners from the rocket program are still around in unlikely places. I met one that was making duck lures - a little pipe calling in the male duck in the hope of sex with a female duck.

          So that's the way this problem can be solved.
          All we need is a duck sex machiner.

    • by willith (218835) on Friday July 19, 2013 @01:42PM (#44330673) Homepage

      The "paperwork" has never been lost—every shred of documentation is intact and on file. In fact, engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center have been spending the past year busily disassembling and working with components from several stored F-1 engines. They've constructed highly detailed CAD models of the engines, and even done hot firing on one of the gas generator segments.

      I penned a very detailed piece [arstechnica.com] on this over at Ars Technica earlier this year, including photos and video of one of the gas generator hot-fires. The piece includes multiple interviews with senior propulsion scientists at MSFC, and thoroughly debunks the "but the blueprints are lost!" urban myth.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        Damn, well thank you for passing this along. I like to consider myself an apollo buff, although I havent kep up on it as much as I got older (im one of those who was lucky enough to go to space camp as a child in the early 90s) I saw a program about the time the new moon missions were planned that said alot of the blueprints and paperwork were lost over the years. I never bothered to look into it but I had always hoped what i saw was wrong.
      • by decsnake (6658)

        Thanks, that was a great article, but apparently it could still use more debunking, because that myth seems to be as firmly entrenched as ever.

      • There seems to be a strange claim in your article:

        In addition, the city of Huntsville has grown up considerably since the Apollo era; lighting off an engine the size of an F-1 at Marshall today would likely blow out every window in the entire city.

        That does not compute to me. When cities grow, their old parts tend to stay where they are. If engine tests didn't blow out windows in the older and smaller version of the city, how come that the same windows in the old parts of the city are now under threat from the same engine? I don't see how the city growing could make them more brittle or anything.

        Otherwise, a nice article, and even nicer pictures.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          I am going to assume that in the 60s there were not buildings near the old test location and in the past 50 years buildings have been built in what was once forrest or otherwise land not inhabited.
          • I'm talking about the old parts of the city. The claim is that all windows in the city would get destroyed, therefore, the windows in the old parts of the city would get destroyed, but the distances and pressure levels for those wouldn't have changed since the 1960s. Therefore, the claim doesn't make sense.
      • by dj245 (732906)

        The "paperwork" has never been lost—every shred of documentation is intact and on file. In fact, engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center have been spending the past year busily disassembling and working with components from several stored F-1 engines. They've constructed highly detailed CAD models of the engines, and even done hot firing on one of the gas generator segments.

        I penned a very detailed piece [arstechnica.com] on this over at Ars Technica earlier this year, including photos and video of one of the gas generator hot-fires. The piece includes multiple interviews with senior propulsion scientists at MSFC, and thoroughly debunks the "but the blueprints are lost!" urban myth.

        The first stage rocket engine is not a complete rocket. Aruably the engine is very important, but many other things are important too. The underlying point is we can't built a Saturn 5 again. We would need to basically redesign the whole rocket to get there.

      • Thank you for that article - awesome and interesting reading.

  • by errxn (108621) on Friday July 19, 2013 @01:33PM (#44330561) Homepage Journal

    Does it qualify for Super Saver Shipping?

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Only if you drop-ship it to an Amazon Warehouse first.
      The same goes for Amazon Prime.

      http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-elephant-in-amazons-mail-room-2012-11-28 [marketwatch.com]

      So what's the heaviest item Amazon will ship for free? The company declined to say, but the makers of a 1,509-pound safe (shipping weight: 1,672 pounds) claim the prize for biggest bang for one's 79 bucks.

      "We charge customers around $700 to ship this safe, but when they buy it through Amazon they get it shipped for free," says Pasquale Murena, marketing manager for Cannon Safe. "As a result, we get orders through Amazon every day." In fact, Amazon will pick up the tab for shipping the safe even for non-Prime members, if they are willing to wait a few extra days for delivery. Like many items priced over $25, it qualifies for "Super Saver Shipping," which usually take five to eight days to arrive.

      What investors do know is this: [Amazon] reported $636 million in shipping losses in the quarter ended Sept. 30 ($2.8 billion in the past year) -- that represents 4.6% of its sales. Amazon reported a net $274 million loss that quarter, but "they would have earned a hefty profit were it not for the costs of free shipping," says Gillis. In fact, free shipping reduces Amazon's profit margin on any one item to about 1%, compared with the 5% retailers earn typically, he says.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Friday July 19, 2013 @01:37PM (#44330619)

    It belongs in a museum! </Indy>

    • I agree, but the U.S. government made no real attempt to recover it for that purpose. Bezos should donate it to a museum, and hopefully get a nice name plaque next to it, but if he doesn't I can't see the U.S. government having the moral standing to force him to.

      • by dacut (243842) on Friday July 19, 2013 @02:26PM (#44331163)
        They remain the property of NASA, and Bezos acknowledges as much [bezosexpeditions.com]: "If we are able to recover one of these F-1 engines[...], I imagine that NASA would decide to make it available to the Smithsonian for all to see. If we're able to raise more than one engine, I've asked NASA if they would consider making it available to the excellent Museum of Flight here in Seattle."
      • by compro01 (777531) on Friday July 19, 2013 @02:38PM (#44331329)

        I agree, but the U.S. government made no real attempt to recover it for that purpose.

        They didn't need to. They had 2 complete Saturn V rockets leftover from the cancelled Apollo 19 and 20 missions. You can see them on display at the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centres. They also have a standalone F-1 in the rocket garden at the latter.

        • by sconeu (64226)

          Marshall Space Flight Center also has one, though it's built of prototype and QA versions of the various stages. None of its components were built to go into space.

          Nevertheless, they are not replicas.

    • by jafac (1449)

      No. It belongs on an SLS booster.

  • unamed conservator (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jonnymacuser (2893299) on Friday July 19, 2013 @01:43PM (#44330681)
    Who is this "intrepid conservator" who "kept digging for more evidence" and eventually found "Unit No 2044"??? Give the guy some recognition jeff!
    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Who is this "intrepid conservator" who "kept digging for more evidence" and eventually found "Unit No 2044"???

      Give the guy some recognition jeff!

      They tend not to give recognition to Top. Men. [youtube.com]

  • by swampfriend (2629073) on Friday July 19, 2013 @01:43PM (#44330687)

    I'm glad that the scientific community will benefit from these good auspices. NASA's in-house seers predict this will totally compensate for the bad omen earlier this year, when seven ravens got incinerated on the launchpad.

  • I really admire him for spending time doing adventurous activities with his time. He doesn't seem wrapped up in just being wealthy. He wants to use that money to make spaceships and dig up sunken treasures. I pretty much live a Great-Value-Brand-Upper-Lower-Class lifestyle and rely on Super Saver Shipping for most purchases, but Bezos really sets the bar high for what a person could become. And he isn't all about the show.

  • Awesome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 19, 2013 @01:47PM (#44330735)

    When my daughter was about 7, we took her to the Kennedy Space Center.

    The look of joyous awe on her face when she came around the corner and looked up at the five F1s of the business end of the Saturn V there was timeless.

  • 1%ers have way cooler hobbies than I do.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I don't qualify as a 1%er, but some of my friends do. I can tell you that Jeff ain't just a 1%er :)

  • what a pity (Score:5, Funny)

    by bitt3n (941736) on Friday July 19, 2013 @02:22PM (#44331095)
    It's a pity this engine wasn't from Apollo 13. I bet Tom Hanks would have paid a pretty penny for an engine from the rocket he piloted, and then Bezos could have used the proceeds to retire a wealthy man, just like Cameron did when he salvaged the Titanic.
    • It's a pity this engine wasn't from Apollo 13. I bet Tom Hanks would have paid a pretty penny for an engine from the rocket he piloted, and then Bezos could have used the proceeds to retire a wealthy man, just like Cameron did when he salvaged the Titanic.

      May god have mercy on your soul. [youtube.com]

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