NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced on Friday that the agency would offer one of the Saturn V F-1 engines to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington once they were recovered from the ocean floor.
An exploration team led by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, found the Saturn V engines 14,000 feet below the surface in the Atlantic Ocean. The team is now making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the water.
“I would like to thank Jeff Bezos for his communication with NASA informing us of his historic find. I salute him and his entire team on this bold venture and wish them all the luck in the world,” Bolden said in a statement on Friday.
“NASA does retain ownership of any artifacts recovered and would likely offer one of the Saturn V F-1 engines to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington under long-standing arrangements with the institution as the holder of the national collection of aerospace artifacts,” Bolden said. “If the Smithsonian declines or if a second engine is recovered, we will work to ensure an engine or other artifacts are available for display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, as Jeff requested in his correspondence with my office. I have directed our staff to begin work to exercise all appropriate authorities to provide a smooth and expeditious disposition of any flight hardware recovered.
“We don’t know yet what condition these engines might be in,” Bezos said on Wednesday. “They hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years.”
The Saturn V F-1 rocket engine is still a modern wonder — one and a half million pounds of thrust, 32 million horsepower, and burning 6,000 pounds of rocket grade kerosene and liquid oxygen every second. On July 16, 1969, the world watched as five particular F-1 engines fired in concert, beginning the historic Apollo 11 mission. Those five F-1s burned for just a few minutes, and then plunged back to Earth into the Atlantic Ocean, just as NASA planned. A few days later, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.
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