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Thanks to the efforts of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, two engines from the Apollo rockets that delivered man to the moon, have been dug up from their watery grave more than 40 years after they landed back on earth.
The announcement to try recover what NASA is calling an historic find, was made by the Internet billionaire a year ago. Since then, the salvage team has been trying to surmount the challenge of first seeking them out and then finding a way to bring the F-1 engines that powered the gigantic Saturn V rockets, back to dry land.
The largest and most powerful of all US rockets to be built, each FI engine was 19-feet tall (5.8 meters) and 12-feet wide (3.8 meters) and weighed more than 8,000 pounds. Added to that, is the fact that the engines lay about 3 miles below the surface of the sea water where they had been subjected to corrosion for over 40 years.
It was therefore a pleasant surprise when Jeff Bezos proudly announced on March 20th, that following a three-week sea expedition, his team had succeeded in recovering a number of the prime pieces of two Apollo engines. They were brought to surface with the help of fiber optic cables that were lowered down to the bottom of the seabed, by remotely controlled vehicles. While experts are positive they are engines from the Apollo missions they could not confirm which one, because the recovered pieces have no serial numbers embossed on them.
In order to determine the mission they belonged to, the engines have been sent to NASA's headquarters in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Jeff Bezos is keeping his fingers crossed that they are the ones that launched Apollo 11 - The mission that the landed the first astronauts - Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon.
The best news is that no matter which Apollo mission the engines belong to, Mr. Bezos is planning to restore them and then donate them to NASA so they can be displayed at a museum, for all to admire.
For those of you that may be a little hazy on the history, the Apollo missions were a series of space missions that were flown by NASA from 1961 to 1975. While the first successful moon landing achieved by Apollo 11 in 1969 is the most well known, there were five other Apollo missions and ten more astronauts that also traversed the lunar surface.
And though Armstrong and Buzz were the first, there were other astronauts that also had unique things to brag about. 36-year old Charles Duke (Apollo 16) was the youngest, 47-year-old Allan Shepard (Apollo 14) was the oldest. Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17) was the last person to arrive, whilst co-astronaut Eugene Cernan was the last person to leave!