Friday, March 30, 2012
Deep-sea space hunt
Long before Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos became an Internet mogul, he was enthralled by the mysteries of space.
As a five-year-old, Mr. Bezos, along with half a billion people around the world, watched in awe as American astronaut Neil Armstrong took the first step on the moon in 1969.
More than 40 years later, the billionaire will attempt to haul from the dark depths of the Atlantic at least one of the mammoth rocket engines that helped boost the Apollo 11 astronauts into history.
Using high-tech sonar, an expedition spearheaded by Mr. Bezos has discovered what he claimed were discarded engines from the mission lurking 4,300 metres deep.
In an online announcement on Wednesday, Mr. Bezos said he was drawing up plans to recover the sunken engines, part of the mighty Saturn V rocket that launched Mr. Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their moon mission. The five engines dropped into the sea as planned minutes after liftoff in 1969. Four days later, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Aldrin walked on the moon. “We don't know yet what condition these engines might be in,” he wrote. “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.”
Mr. Bezos acknowledged the engines were the property of NASA, but said he hoped they will be displayed in museums. NASA expressed excitement about the find. The space agency said it has not been formally contacted by Mr. Bezos and waited for more information.
The sea floor is littered with spent rockets and flight parts from missions dating back to the dawn of the Space Age and it is unknown what survived decades later. — AP
Amazon CEO claims discovery of Apollo 11 rocket engines.