Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos today announced that his underwater expedition had successfully recovered the mangled wreckage of two rocket engines from NASA's Apollo program from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
After spending three weeks at sea, Bezos wrote on his personal blog that he and his team were heading back to Cape Canaveral, in Florida, with a treasure trove of NASA artifacts from the space era.
"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," Bezos wrote.
Bezos' team used remotely operated vehicles to dive down 14,000 feet (almost three miles) to the dark depths of the ocean floor, where they recovered "major components" of two Saturn V F-1 rocket engines flown during the Apollo program (1963-'72). The program included lunar missions and earth orbiting missions, most famously Apollo 11, which sent Neil Armstrong to the moon in 1969.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement to ABC News that Bezos approached the space agency nearly a year ago with his plan to recover the engines and praised the team's efforts.
"We share the excitement expressed by Jeff and his team in announcing the recovery of two of the powerful Saturn V first-stage engines from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean," Bolden said. "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."
After decades of being exposed to water, many of the engine components are missing serial numbers or pieces, "which is going to make mission identification difficult," Bezos wrote.
NASA will work with the expedition team to restore the engine hardware and prevent further corrosion. Bezos hopes to then put the engines on display.