Apollo 11 Saturn V F-1 Engine: Thrust Chamber

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On March 28, 2012, Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO, announced that he had assembled a team to locate the Apollo F-1 engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean and would make plans to raise one or more of the engines from the ocean floor.

One year later, during a three week adventure approximately 400 miles off the coast of Florida, Bezos and the team discovered an underwater wonderland where F-1 engines used during the Apollo Program had plunged back to Earth into the Atlantic Ocean.

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) worked at a depth of more than 14,000 feet, tethered to the ship with fiber optics for data and electric cables for transmitting power at more than 4,000 volts. Operators onboard the ship maneuvered the ROVs through the engine debris and controlled their every move. Using the manipulator arms of the ROVs, the historic artifacts were carefully lifted from the ocean floor and placed in a recovery basket, which was then lifted onto the ship’s deck.

In Bezos’ own words at the conclusion of the recovery expedition: “We’re bringing home enough major components to fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines. The upcoming conservation will stabilize the hardware and prevent further corrosion. We want the hardware to tell its true story, including its 5,000 mile per hour re-entry and subsequent impact with the ocean surface. We’re excited to get this hardware on display where just maybe it will inspire something amazing.” That’s where the Cosmosphere came in — SpaceWorks, a division of the Cosmosphere, conserved the famous Apollo F-1 engines and prepared them for display. 

The F-1 engines conserved and preserved by SpaceWorks can be seen on display at: The Cosmosphere, Hutchinson, KS; The Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA; National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC; U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL; Stafford Air and Space Museum, Weatherford, OK.