Around 44 years ago, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were the first men to walk on the moon while riding on Apollo 11. After launching, a huge rocket engine part fell on the ocean floor and sat there untouched for years. The massive rocket engine part has been salvaged from the ocean and it was dug up by a company started by Amazon.com founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos.
“Today, I?m thrilled to share some exciting news. One of the conservators who was scanning the objects with a black light and a special lens filter has made a breakthrough discovery ? ‘2044’ ? stenciled in black paint on the side of one of the massive thrust chambers. 2044 is the Rocketdyne serial number that correlates to NASA number 6044, which is the serial number for F-1 Engine #5 from Apollo 11. The intrepid conservator kept digging for more evidence, and after removing more corrosion at the base of the same thrust chamber, he found it ? ‘Unit No 2044′ ? stamped into the metal surface,” stated Bezos on his website.
After the fuel was done being used, the 12.2 foot wide x 18.5 foot tall F-1 engines dropped in the Atlantic Ocean. It was buried around 14,000 feet deep. The structures were made almost unrecognizable following the impact and time. Corrosion on the engine removed the base of a Saturn V engine thrust chamber. The serial number “Unit No 2044” was stamped on the rocket engine. Bezos’ team raised parts for at least two F-1 engines in March 2013. However, Bezos’ team did not known if it was from Apollo 11 or one of the other 12 Saturn V rockets that flew between 1967 and 1973. Each of the Saturn V rockets were equipped with five of the engines.
“There was one secret that the ocean didn’t give up easily: mission identification,” added Bezos. “The components’ fiery end and heavy corrosion from 43 years underwater removed or covered up most of the original serial numbers.”
The conservation team at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas were put in charge of identifying the thrust chambers, gas generators, turbines, fuel manifolds, injectors, etc. The conservators were also asked to inspect and document each component. One of the conservators that scanned the objects with a black light and lens filter discovered the 2044 drawn in black paint on the side of one of the massive thrust chambers. 2044 is the Rocketdyne serial number that corresponds to NASA number 6044. That is the serial number for F-1 Engine #5 from Apollo 11.
It will take around two years for the Kansas Cosmosphere to complete the conservation of the engines. The public will be able to view the parts and see work being done through a special tour that is offered at the museum’s SpaceWorks facility. A website with a live camera view is also being developed. Conservation is taking place as part of an agreement made between Bezos and NASA. NASA will retain ownership of the artifacts and will decide where they go on museum display. Bezos is interested in having one of the engine’s parts displayed at The Museum of Flight in Seattle, which is near Amazon.com’s headquarters.
[Image Credit: Bezos Expeditions]