back to article Amazon boss salvages Apollo engines from watery grave

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and his deep-sea salvage crew have successfully raised enough wreckage from the seabed off Florida to rebuild two of the massive F-1 rocket engines that once powered NASA's Apollo missions. F-1 rocket from an Apollo engine A fixer-upper in mechanical terms "We found so much," Bezos said in a blog …


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  1. Herby Silver badge


    One owner, lightly used.

    What could possible be wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look...

      Slightly used yes but can be recycled and repaired. Amazon has a bigger budget than NASA now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Look...

        However, NASA exist to do Space and Aeronautics, it seems that these big Internet companies, such as Amazon, Google, etc, exist to allow their owners to carry out ego projects.

        1. Aldous

          Re: Look...

          yeah how dare they allow their super reach execs to spend money on things like this!

          What an exec does with their pay is not related to the company

        2. Real Ale is Best

          Re: Look...

          If they bring up interesting bits of history from the sea bed, or create their own launch system at vastly cheaper cost than existing systems, or indeed do anything that spends their money rather than hording it, they can do all the ego projects they like.

          1. Dana W
            Thumb Up

            Re: Look...

            Thank you Real Ale is Best for the smartest post I've read all day.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "plummeted into the sea at around 5,000 mph"

    Where did that figure come from? Certainly you don't expect them to have maintained the velocity at separation all the way through the free-fall through a thickening atmosphere?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Shagbag

      Re: "plummeted into the sea at around 5,000 mph"

      There's always one. Even on El Reg.

    3. JLV Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "plummeted into the sea at around 5,000 mph"

      Good point, and I am pretty sure a booster which somehow ended up hitting the water surface at Mach 7 would not look remotely recognizable afterwards. That's, what, 2-3x as fast as a tank shell?

  3. Turtle

    Technical Matter

    "Although the rockets are still technically the property of NASA the salvage attempt has been a privately-funded operation sponsored by Bezos and his chums."

    Has he spoken to and more importantly reached any sort of agreement with NASA about this, uh, really trivial and purely technical matter - i.e. who owns them and/or who is going to decide on the engines disposition?

    1. AbortRetryFail

      Re: Technical Matter

      I wonder if the International law on Martime Salvage might apply here? Or does that only apply to boats?

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Technical Matter

        Nope: salvage applies to aircraft, too, so why not rockets?

        Clearly, these are abandoned wreckage so may be salved like any other wreck. The fact that the recovered items are headed for Canaveral suggests that Uncle Sam is not unhappy about this.

        1. Vulch

          Re: Technical Matter

          Salvage doesn't apply to any government vehicle.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Technical Matter

            I don't believe that's correct. Certainly the British government has had to pay out before, and salvage law is pretty standard.

        2. karlp
          Thumb Up

          Re: Technical Matter

          Indeed NASA are aware and in support of the matter.

          In Jeff's Bezos blog on the matter (already linked in this conversation) he states the following:


          Finally, I want to thank NASA. They extended every courtesy and every helping hand – all of NASA’s interactions were characterized by plain old common sense, something which we all know is impressive and uncommon. We're excited to be bringing a couple of your F-1s home.


          While not an outright declaration of their blessing, it is obviously strongly inferred.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Technical Matter / "Salvage"

        You can be sure that U.S. only allows one of their own, trusted plutocrats to get his fingers on one of the most powerful rocket motors. These things still have massive military and political value and I would not be surprised to learn that parts of it are still classified secrets. You can build a nice ICBM with one of these. Not everybody really needs sold-fuel ICBMs when getting into that activity.

        All your law technicalities mean exactly nothing when it comes to strategic weapons and surely they will find a way to route you to Gitmo if you try to grab one without their (written or not) permission.

        A fitting picture.

    2. Miek

      Re: Technical Matter

      "Has he spoken to and more importantly reached any sort of agreement with NASA about this" -- I assume you missed the part of the article that said "Bezos is now steaming for Cape Canaveral to drop off the precious rockets for rebuilding and eventual display."

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    I don't suppose

    That they happened upon the remains of our proud playmonaut and his proud craft?

    1. SteveastroUk

      Re: I don't suppose

      mmm. Not unless he swam to Florida before drowning.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: I don't suppose

        Given a choice of drowning in the freezing four-foot waves we had in the channel that day, or drowning in Florida where maybe he could pick up a Mojito or two before he went, I know which I'd choose. It was bad enough in a boat!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bet I know where they will be going....

    I bet I know where NASA will send them for restoration - the same place Liberty Bell went, the same place the various V1 and V2 rockets go. I hope they do it like they did Liberty Bell, and do the restoration out in public.

  6. M Gale

    Ask if the SPB can borrow one.

    You know, just because.

    Hey, the response might be worth printing?

  7. MajorTom

    Ahem, numbers...

    "Nearly 50 years ago" -- Sorry, I was born days after Apollo 11 and I'm not that close to 50...the date range for Saturn V flights was more like 40-45 years ago.

    "Plummeted into the sea at 5000 mph" -- The terminal velocity for a spent stage 1 booster would be much closer to 500 mph than 5000.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Ahem, numbers...

      Indeed, after a collision with the surface of the sea at 5000 mi/hr the wreckage wouldn't be recognisable.

      1. Jan 0

        Re: Ahem, numbers... @Sorry ... taken

        Ahem indeed. As the "18.5ft by 12.2ft rockets" seem to have been infinitely flattened by the impact.

    2. Steven Roper

      Re: Ahem, numbers...

      "Sorry, I was born days after Apollo 11 and I'm not that close to 50"

      Come on, don't kid yourself about how the years have flown, mate! I was a toddler when Armstrong mentioned steps and leaps, and I turn 47 this year. If you were born then, that means you turn 44 this year. So there's 44 years behind you and 6 years until you're 50, so you're 88% of the way there bud...

      Here, have a pint on me and let's reminisce about the good old days like the old farts we are! ;)

      I remember thinking when Dad dug me out of bed to watch the historic moment (it's my earliest childhood memory), as a child would, that the "funny man" bouncing around on TV in the big suit was talking about the fun of jumping down stairs. I had only recently started walking (or toddling I should say) and had just discovered how to jump. Armstrong said small step and giant leap, so I assumed he meant that it was OK to jump off of the bottom steps of the hall staircase - an enjoyable pursuit I had just discovered and from which Mum quickly did her best to dissuade me, in absolute terror of me breaking my silly little neck doing it!

      Of course, given my very tender age at the the time, the significance of the "funny man" actually being on the moon was completely lost on me...

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Ahem, numbers...

        Steve, you wrote my post. My dad got me up to watch as well and I do have a memory of it.


        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Ahem, numbers...

          Mine too - though I was nine. At school, they showed us the previous missions and the launch for that one... I can't remember how to do italic handwriting any more but I still recall that.

      2. Kevin Johnston

        Re: Ahem, numbers...

        and how the years have sneaked past since then

        About that pint...

    3. Psyx

      Re: Ahem, numbers...

      "Sorry, I was born days after Apollo 11 and I'm not that close to 50...the date range for Saturn V flights was more like 40-45 years ago."

      So a 10% variance.

      That's 'nearly'!

  8. Clive Harris

    " Each of the five engines fired for just 165 seconds"

    I think you'll find it was 155 seconds (2 minutes, 35 seconds). As schoolboys in that era we memorised such figures by heart. The first stage engines had a combined thrust of 7500000 lbs and burned propellant at 1000 tons/minute (no metrication in those days), meaning that the first stage got through more than 2500 tons of fuel before separating.

    1. b00n

      Re: " Each of the five engines fired for just 165 seconds"

      Just to be awkward... from a number of sources the burn time varied between 150 and 165 seconds, so you're both right: "it started out at 150 seconds, and the first two Mercury flights were 150 seconds, but they were unmanned. They had the whole stack, but they didn’t have the astronauts. They made flight changes for the first manned one, and from that point on, the burn duration was 165". From, definitely worth a read.

      Just one statistical snippet: "We got over 280,000 seconds of total burn time throughout the entire program. There were twelve Apollo flights that used the F-1 engines, then the Skylab used the last one that flew. That added up to thirteen flights or sixty-five total engines in flight. "

  9. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    News flash!! The engines have mysteriously disappeared on the way to Cape Canaveral!!!

    In other news, Jeff Bezos' Amazon purchase history has been hacked, and it was found that lately he has been stocking up on neutral-colored Nehru jackets and a white persian cat with a diamond collar.....

    1. Psyx

      News flash!! The engines have mysteriously disappeared on the way to Cape Canaveral!!!

      Did they get a 'while you were out' note through the door telling them the engines are now at a depot 20 miles away?

  10. Bertie D'astard

    He should be easily able to rebuild them, I mean, it's not exactly Rocket Science is it?

  11. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    As a side note...

    It's a little known fact that a large proportion of the Saturn engines and telemetry systems were engineered and built by Chrysler...

  12. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    More photos on Bezos' site here:

    There's one of the thrust chamber on the sea bottom. It looks like it dug itself a little crater when it hit bottom.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      So much material but no Paris icom

      "thrust chamber", "see bottom", "little crater when it hit bottom".

      Sounds like they should be entries in roger mellys Profanisaurus

  13. Martin Budden

    SI units?

    Has The Register given up completely on SI units already? The decision to use SI was not that long ago, how come standards have slipped (pun intended) so quickly?

  14. Winkypop Silver badge

    The US Government sure is thorough

    They faked all the Moon missions, but to make sure no one found out they even sunk some 'damaged' rocket engines in the ocean. That's very thorough.


    1. Ralph B

      Re: The US Government sure is thorough

      Very thorough indeed. The faked moon-landing was actually more expensive than a real moon-landing would have been.

  15. TeeCee Gold badge

    Fitting that Bezos has got 'em.

    After all, they went up into the clouds and then came crashing back down again.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Well it's amazing what you can find for sale

    on eBay.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well it's amazing what you can find for sale

      And just how much do you think they'd sell for? I know that even a small fitting would probably be out of my price range.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    "Most Powerful"

    According to

    this claim might not be entirely true today. It certainly was true then. The Russkies had their fair share of Nazi Engineers...

    1. kiwi8mail

      Re: "Most Powerful"

      Yes, but it has always been debatable whether the RD-170 is a single engine, or in fact four separate ones...

  18. Scott Mckenzie


    They really are looking at taking cloud computing to another level with this...

  19. Ol'Peculier

    Where will they end up?

    Somebody please say the Smithsonian. Next to Discovery please.

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