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.
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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.
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 ExpeditionsView gallery - 5 images