"We found so much."
March 20, 2013 11:55 AM   Subscribe

As promised, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his team have recovered several Apollo F-1 rocket engines from the bottom of the ocean.

"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."

Or, technically, enough parts to rebuild two of them. But who's counting? (Via Ars Technica)
posted by Chutzler (58 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
That's neat, I didn't think we'd ever see those engines again. I thought it was interesting that Rory Golden also helped locate the Titanic.
posted by dragonplayer at 12:01 PM on March 20, 2013


Many of the original serial numbers are missing or partially missing, which is going to make mission identification difficult.

If you listen carefully, you can hear a thousand moon hoax conspiracy theorists shouting "yes, how convenient!".
posted by dr_dank at 12:07 PM on March 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


All I want to know is if they are eligible for Super Saver shipping.
posted by Samizdata at 12:14 PM on March 20, 2013 [37 favorites]


I wonder if they saw any interesting sealife when they were down there? Since NASA haven't found any actual aliens yet and all (OR SO THEY WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE).
posted by Drexen at 12:14 PM on March 20, 2013


....anyone else read the url as "Bezo Sexpeditions .com" ?
posted by hellojed at 12:19 PM on March 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


Not quite sure why, but this made me cry:

"The technology used for the recovery is in its own way as otherworldly as the Apollo technology itself. The Remotely Operated Vehicles worked at a depth of more than 14,000 feet, tethered to our ship with fiber optics for data and electric cables transmitting power at more than 4,000 volts. We on the team were often struck by poetic echoes of the lunar missions. The buoyancy of the ROVs looks every bit like microgravity. The blackness of the horizon. The gray and colorless ocean floor. Only the occasional deep sea fish broke the illusion."

Actually, I am sure why. It's beautiful.
posted by merelyglib at 12:20 PM on March 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Without the nozzle and deconstructed, it looks fairly compact, at least for something that turns kerosene into six-and-a-half meganewtons of thrust.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:21 PM on March 20, 2013


Hurray we found old engine parts! Can we go get the descent stages of the Lunar Modules now? 'Cause that would be awesome.

Still can't believe NASA left Neil and Buzz's lunar boots on the surface.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:23 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


We’re bringing home enough major components to fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines.

I don't know if I'm happy or sad he's not using them to build a doomsday device. I understand I'm safer, but billionaires recovering lost space ship parts from the ocean for display? Just seems like the world has less color in it.
posted by anti social order at 12:24 PM on March 20, 2013 [16 favorites]


Bezos is slowly accumulating rocket parts to build his own ship.
posted by Renoroc at 12:29 PM on March 20, 2013


I don't know if I'm happy or sad he's not using them to build a doomsday device.

I'm not supposed to give anything away but let's just say that you should probably sign up for Prime sooner rather than later
posted by theodolite at 12:30 PM on March 20, 2013 [24 favorites]


Not a Bezos fan, but this is a fine post.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:30 PM on March 20, 2013


Pffft, just a rich guy dumpster-diving in a way that the rest of us can only dream about.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:33 PM on March 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


I understand I'm safer, but billionaires recovering lost space ship parts from the ocean for display?

It's probably all a CIA cover story.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:36 PM on March 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


If I were a billionaire recovering lost spaceship parts for my doomsday device, I'd definitely tell people they were for display. Don't give up hope!
posted by echo target at 12:37 PM on March 20, 2013


Bezos is slowly accumulating rocket parts to build his own ship.

He dreams of a tax haven on the moon.
posted by biffa at 12:39 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pffft, just a rich guy dumpster-diving in a way that the rest of us can only dream about.

You need to visit a scrap yard in a city with a large defense contractor or two. I could probably have my own F-18 at this point.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:40 PM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bezos is slowly accumulating rocket parts to build his own ship.

Huh, you'd think he'd go for the Cultural Victory.
posted by griphus at 12:41 PM on March 20, 2013 [31 favorites]


Anyone else think he must be soooo jealous of Elon Musk.

Blue Origin was founded in 2000, SpaceX was founded in 2002.

While Bezos is pulling museum pieces off the sea floor, SpaceX already has rockets more powerful then the Saturn-V (5MN vs 4.4MN) and they're working on a version that will be almost 4 times as powerful as the Saturn V with a planned first launch this year.

Not only is the Falcon Heavy be powerful enough to get us to Mars, in fact, NASA is actually working on a plan for a sample-return mars mission a spacecraft that could be manned (In other words, using a ship large enough to carry humans and return with them)

And that's not even getting into the relative social good of Tesla vs. Amazon...
posted by delmoi at 12:42 PM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


He would but that asshole Ghandi will inevitably drop a nuke on him.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:42 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I thought it was interesting that Rory Golden also helped locate the Titanic."
Actually, Rory was not part of that expedition. His comment about that news item was "I'm not THAT fekin' old!" He has been deeply (so to speak) involved with more recent Titanic expeditions, since 2000.
posted by Kaigiron at 12:43 PM on March 20, 2013


hellojed: "....anyone else read the url as "Bezo Sexpeditions .com" ?"

This is fitting because they found the engine parts near the coast of Pen island.

that's a lie. I'm sorry.
posted by boo_radley at 12:46 PM on March 20, 2013 [17 favorites]


While Bezos is pulling museum pieces off the sea floor, SpaceX already has rockets more powerful then the Saturn-V (5MN vs 4.4MN)

Are you reading that right? The Falcon 9 is classed as medium lift rocket, capable of putting 15 tons into Low Earth Orbit. The Saturn V was capable putting of 130 tons into LEO, before it's final stage sent about 75 tons to the Moon.

Space X is working on the Falcon Heavy which can put 60 tons into LEO.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:55 PM on March 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's actually a penisula.
posted by griphus at 12:55 PM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's probably all a CIA cover story.

That could have started a war.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:09 PM on March 20, 2013


It's probably all a CIA cover story.

Speaking of Amazon and the CIA: Amazon reportedly building a private cloud for the CIA

Amazon joins military-industrial complex
posted by homunculus at 1:14 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pffft, just a rich guy dumpster-diving in a way that the rest of us can only dream about.

Favorited ... but then I'm a huge F1 fan. So whatever ...
posted by philip-random at 1:16 PM on March 20, 2013


If I were a billionaire recovering lost spaceship parts for my doomsday device, I'd definitely tell people they were for display.

I can't imagine any Jeff Bezos doomsday device that would not involve forcing all of humanity to listen to him laugh -- he truly has The.Creepiest.Laugh.Ever.
posted by y2karl at 1:21 PM on March 20, 2013


And somewhere in Hollywood, Jim Cameron thinks, "Damnit. I wanted to bring those up."
posted by radwolf76 at 1:24 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


SpaceX already has rockets more powerful then the Saturn-V (5MN vs 4.4MN)

Um, no. You're comparing the Falcon 9 (which uses 9 Merlin engines) to a single Rocketdyne F1, of which the Saturn-V has five.

The Saturn-V in total was many many times more powerful (just look at the payload capabilities)

The Falcon Heavy is more in the same ballpark, payload-wise, but still uses the smaller engines, simply adding more of them (which was what the Russian space program tended to do)

The F1 is still in a class by itself, when it comes to big-ass engines.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:26 PM on March 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


What they're not sharing is that several images of the recovery were photobombed by Robert Ballard.
posted by exogenous at 1:32 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ha ha, exogenous, you must have worked with "Broadway Bob" before! They say the most dangerous place on a Bob Ballard boat is in between him and the camera.
posted by Kaigiron at 1:34 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting fact: All the engineering data and drawings needed to build another Saturn V were lost when the magnetic tapes they were stored on were recycled. (For want of a $10000 archiving fee)
posted by shnarg at 2:06 PM on March 20, 2013


Interesting fact: All the engineering data and drawings needed to build another Saturn V were lost when the magnetic tapes they were stored on were recycled. (For want of a $10000 archiving fee)

That's a common thought, but not true.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:23 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Favorited ... but then I'm a huge F1 fan. So whatever ...

By which I meant, Formula One auto racing, which takes a backseat to nobody when it comes to vast and conspicuous squandering of lucre.

and it's fun.
posted by philip-random at 2:26 PM on March 20, 2013


It's easier to just laser scan the existing engines than to try to piece together ancient plans and to try to make sense of them in contemporary engineering terms.
posted by delicious-luncheon at 2:35 PM on March 20, 2013


We’re excited to get this hardware on display where just maybe it will inspire something amazing.

Interesting idea, where contrary to what we've all heard countless times - people who cannot remember the past are doomed to not repeat it, nor improve on it.
posted by nevercalm at 2:44 PM on March 20, 2013


I’m afraid to click on the video. I can only imagine it starts with the submarine finding wreckage on the ocean floor but then transitions into two hours of historical fiction, mostly Buzz Aldrin drawing naked sketches of Neil Armstrong (“I’m the king of the moon!”) while unscrupulous cad Michael Collins contemplates stealing the command module and leaving them to burn on re-entry. No one wants to see that.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:45 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I’m afraid to click on the video. I can only imagine it starts with the submarine finding wreckage on the ocean floor but then transitions into two hours of historical fiction, mostly Buzz Aldrin drawing naked sketches of Neil Armstrong (“I’m the king of the moon!”) while unscrupulous cad Michael Collins contemplates stealing the command module and leaving them to burn on re-entry. No one wants to see that.

Next time, I'm cheering for the short circuited wiring in oxygen tank #2.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:05 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bezos is slowly accumulating rocket parts to build his own ship.

It would seem appropriate to abbreviate Bezo's spaceship to "the B Ship".
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:17 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Samizdata wrote:
All I want to know is if they are eligible for Super Saver shipping.

"Super Saver Shipping" would be a hell of a name for a marine salvage business.
posted by Songdog at 3:21 PM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Phew. For a few months, I was worried that incredibly rich people had run out of stupid things to do with their money, and would have to fall back on doing good for all humanity. But nope! Bezos the inane is back with a wacky plan to jizz his money up the wall, in search of other people's rubbish. Yay!
posted by The River Ivel at 4:09 PM on March 20, 2013


a wacky plan to jizz his money up the wall

Preserving historical artifacts is not the weirdest or worst thing one could do with a large sum of money.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:19 PM on March 20, 2013


"So, hey, guys, we built these underwater robots? What should we do with them?"
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 4:20 PM on March 20, 2013


But nope! Bezos the inane is back with a wacky plan to jizz his money up the wall, in search of other people's rubbish. Yay!

These are the rocket engines that put humans on the Moon. So which is worse? Going after them or pretending that they're garbage?
posted by Chutzler at 4:38 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


But nope! Bezos the inane is back with a wacky plan to jizz his money up the wall, in search of other people's rubbish. Yay!

I agree with you, but the gross sexual imagery isn't necessary.

These are the rocket engines that put humans on the Moon.

Meh, I'm a fanatic about Apollo but crumpled engines that have been sitting at the bottom of the ocean for 40 years don't give that WOW factor, you know? Send a rover up there to photograph the sites, see what's changed, that would be pretty neat.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:08 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I just happened to finish reading How Apollo Flew tot he Moon, which was a good book describing the various technical processes over the entire voyage, from launch to splash down. What amazing engineering.

Voices from the Moon: Apollo Astronauts Describe Their Lunar Experiences is my favorite book (so far) from the astronaut's point of view.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:24 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The River Ivel, I'm not sure why it disturbs you so much that Jeff Bezos would choose to do this project. Most rich people spend their money making themselves even richer. I happen to think this project is pretty cool. I'm certainly biased, as I'm part of the project. But I get paid either way, and I think it's pretty neat. The point, as I think Jeff Bezos sees it, is to inspire. So if this project can touch a bit of history and bring that to people's attention, that might just inspire some people. If you take these artifacts from the Apollo missions, bring them up from great depths, and put them in a museum, the people who see them get to learn about two kinds of exploration; space and deep ocean. They can learn about what it takes to locate and bring up long lost artifacts from the ocean floor, and at the same time be reminded of what was accomplished back in the late 60s, by lifting people off the Earth and letting them visit another world. Maybe that doesn't do it for everyone. But I think it's pretty cool. And if it inspires anyone at all, then I think it accomplishes what Jeff has set out to do.
posted by Kaigiron at 5:56 PM on March 20, 2013


...crumpled engines that have been sitting at the bottom of the ocean for 40 years don't give that WOW factor, you know?

But that's exactly where the (deliberatelylowercase) wow factor comes from, I think.* There's a certain kind of unique cool to the things that have been long forgotten to history. I mean, Richard III was just another corpse under a parking lot until we dug him up!

Now, I don't mean to be melodramatic, but let's touch on what Kaigiron just said about museums. Can you imagine having these engines in front of you, and being able to look at their twisted hulks while thinking about the hells they've been put through - all while they're right there in front of your eyes? I love that shit! I used to work at a place that had a certain conical spacecraft on display, which had, at one time, ferried three particularly famous people to a certain nearby space rock and back. When I had a few extra minutes I'd just stop and stare. "This," I'd think to myself, soaking it all up, "is fucking nuts."

These motors are unique in that they played the most visible, audible, and ultimately forgettable role in one of the most profound undertakings we've achieved to date; recovering them for display honors that, or at the very least all the work that went into them. And if some kid, after seeing one of these storied hunks of seafloor junk decides that she's going to build rocket engines for a living, then we're well on our way to the next bit of badass shit!

* I'd personally love to see me some new Apollo site photos, though. That'd be a kick in the pants.
posted by Chutzler at 6:50 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Draw me like one of your French-subsidiaries Jeff!"
posted by blue_beetle at 8:03 PM on March 20, 2013


Does anyone know how much this cost Bezos?
posted by lukemeister at 8:53 PM on March 20, 2013


As an Amazon Prime customer, I'd like to say, you're welcome for the funding. All along I had the best interests of humanity in mind when I bought that King Khan and the Shrines album.

Actually, as far as crazy billionaire stunts go, this kind of thing is fine by me, especially as NASA's funding has been cut.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:11 PM on March 20, 2013


And that's not even getting into the relative social good of Tesla vs. Amazon...

Erm, Tesla is really just another one of Musk's hobby projects, albeit one that might actually turn a profit long-term; he actually made his money from PayPal.

So really, the "social good" question is between Amazon and PayPal, which smells like an Alien vs. Predator situation to me.

At least when Amazon sucks money out of my checking account, crap actually shows up at my door a few days later ... can't say the same for PayPal.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:40 PM on March 20, 2013


Meh, I'm a fanatic about Apollo but crumpled engines that have been sitting at the bottom of the ocean for 40 years don't give that WOW factor, you know?

Couldn't agree more. I'm a Huuuuge fan of the "space race era" but booster engines (while totally cool and awe-inspiring in their way) are not exactly the "Spirit of St. Louis" here.

On the other hand, imagine seeing a preserved / reconstructed CSM from an actual mission, or a mission-ready LEM. *drool*

The amount of money spent here over what is essentially "trivia"* could have gone much farther in more worthy endeavors, if I'm being asked.

* They are not archaeology (and if they are, we already have others available in better condition) They can't teach us much, other than the effects of submersion in sea water. As a fan, it's hard for me to criticize any endeavor to preserve Apollo's legacy, and I won't, but yeah, I have to agree there would be "better" ways to spend the money.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:43 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now, I don't mean to be melodramatic, but let's touch on what Kaigiron just said about museums. Can you imagine having these engines in front of you, and being able to look at their twisted hulks while thinking about the hells they've been put through - all while they're right there in front of your eyes?

One can go to Huntsville Alabama and see a replica or visit the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers to see stages of the two function Saturn V rockets that were built, but never used.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:02 PM on March 21, 2013


One can go to Huntsville Alabama and see a replica or visit the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers to see stages of the two function Saturn V rockets that were built, but never used.

I know the exhibit maintenance budgets at Hunstville/Johnson/Kennedy aren't the best, but those haven't quite reached the twisted hulk put through several hells state yet.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:22 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with you, but the gross sexual imagery isn't necessary.

Oh, ditto ditto ditto this and extended to all the recent metaphorical weenie wagging of late, too. Rub your secretions on yourself in privacy, if you please.
posted by y2karl at 2:32 PM on March 21, 2013


One can go to Huntsville Alabama and see a replica or visit the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers to see stages of the two function Saturn V rockets that were built, but never used.

But... the patina of endeavor!
posted by Chutzler at 5:49 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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