Thursday 21 March 2013

Space Age archaeology: Apollo engines rise from the deep.

Benzos Expeditions, a project set up and run by Amazon founder Jeff Benzos, announced this week that it had recovered two F1 engines from the Apollo Space Program 579 km off the coast of Cape Canaveral. Each of the Apollo Missions between 1967 and 1973 used five of these engines as during take-off, blasting it to a height of 67 km in 168 seconds, before being cut off and allowed to fall back into the Atlantic Ocean. Benzos Expeditions announced that it had discovered the engines using sonar in March 2012, and have spent a year organizing the salvage expedition. It is not possible to tell which mission the engines came from.

A heat exchanger from an F1 engine being inspected on the deck of the Seabed Worker. Benzos Expeditions.

The F1 was a liquid-fueled engine designed by Rocketdyne in the 1950s for the United States Airforce, but never used in conventional aviation due to its excessive size. The engine was later adopted by NASA for the Apollo Missions. A total of 65 F1 engines were used between 1967 and 1973.

The F1 engines in their original position at the base of a Saturn V Rocket. NASA.

The engines were brought to the surface using remotely operated vehicles which partially excavated the engines at a depth of over 4 km, before attaching cables which allowed them to be raised to the surface. The engines will now be returned to Cape Canaveral for preservation treatment, before being sent on to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

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