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Jeff Bezos to Recover Lost Apollo Rocket Engines

Posted by Josh Rothman  March 30, 2012 07:30 AM

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Like many of you, I've grown tired of hearing about how super-rich plutocrats manipulate markets, flout regulations, and influence our political process from behind the scenes. And that's why I've especially enjoyed the recent spate of news stories in which super-rich people do really cool things. First, there was film director James Cameron, who designed his own state-of-the-art submarine and used it to travel to the ocean's deepest point, pushing submarine technology forward in the process. And now, Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos has used high-tech sonar technology to locate the huge F-1 rocket engines which powered the Apollo 11 moon shot, and which have been lost at sea without a trace since 1969. He plans to recover one and donate it to the Smithsonian.

On the Bezos Expeditions (!) website, Bezos writes:

I'm excited to report that, using state-of-the-art deep sea sonar, the team has found the Apollo 11 engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface, and we're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor. We don't know yet what condition these engines might be in - they hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years. On the other hand, they're made of tough stuff, so we'll see.

Important note: The engines in question powered the huge Saturn V rockets. Bezos is not talking about the rockets, but about the engines, which were jettisoned once they were done with the first stage of the Apollo launch, at which point other engines took over.

Previously: Jeff Bezos funds the 10,000-year clock.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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