Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Big Engines that Did

A few years ago, owner Jeff Bezos decided to use some of the money I've sent him for books to find the engines of the original Apollo missions, including the rocket that sent Apollo 11 in for the first moon landing.

The old Saturn rockets were multistage affairs which would ditch their used-up engines as they gained altitude, lightening the load and allowing the rockets to build up speed for escape velocity. The course for the launches sent the empty stages and engines into the Atlantic Ocean, and Bezos figured that since people knew about where they landed, someone could go looking for them. If that someone had a boatload of money, that is, which he happily discovered he did indeed possess.

The engines were found and have been raised, and are now being identified and prepared for exhibition, probably at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The expedition actually found parts from more than one flight, restorers learned after they removed enough corrosion to find serial numbers.

The parts will be prepped to be displayed in as close to an "as is" state as possible, the project directors said. Other exhibits shows the pristine-condition engines that have never been used, so there's no point in making these look like them.

There were no efforts being made to find Apollo 18, as recovery project managers said, "That bomb sank way to deep to ever go after it."

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