Amazon CEO recovers sunken Apollo engines

SEATTLE -- founder Jeff Bezos says his private expedition team has successfully recovered two Apollo program rocket engines from the ocean floor.

Writing on the Bezos Expeditions website, Bezos said the team is headed back to Cape Canaveral after recovering the engines from nearly 3 miles below the surface.

"We've seen an underwater wonderland - an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program," he wrote. "We photographed many beautiful objects in situ and have now recovered many prime pieces."

Bezos had set out to recover the engines from the Apollo 11 mission that first landed men on the moon, but wrote that the original serial numbers are missing or partially missing from the recovered engines, so it was not immediately clear which Apollo mission they were from.

"We might see more during restoration. The objects themselves are gorgeous," he said.

The F-1 engines were part of the mighty Saturn V rockets used in the Apollo launches.

The five engines, which produced nearly 7.7 million pounds of thrust, dropped into the sea as planned minutes after liftoff.

The search team led by Bezos said last year that they had located the engines using high-tech sonar.

Following the discovery announcement, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said NASA retains 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.

"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," Bolden said at the time.

In a statement released Wednesday, Bolden applauded Bezos and his team on the recovery.

"This is a historic find and I congratulate the team for its determination and perseverance in the recovery of these important artifacts of our first efforts to send humans beyond Earth orbit," he said.

In his post on Wednesday, Bezos said his team was bringing home enough major components to fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines.

"The upcoming restoration will stabilize the hardware and prevent further corrosion," he wrote. "We want the hardware to tell its true story, including its 5,000 mile per hour re-entry and subsequent impact with the ocean surface. We're excited to get this hardware on display where just maybe it will inspire something amazing."

Bezos also thanked NASA for its assistance with the recovery and said "We're excited to be bringing a couple of your F-1s home."