Apollo F1 atlantic

Blue Origin’s Bezos links the past to the future

seattle times
Jeff Bezos at the Seattle Museum of Flight unveiling the F1 engine

Jeff Bezos, boss of Amazon and rocket company Blue Origin, recently gave a gift to Seattle’s Museum of flight which is a piece of America’s spaceflight history – Apollo rocket engines recovered from 14,000 feet beneath the Atlantic ocean.

This incredible bit of history was recovered by a team funded, and led, by Bezos himself, and a restored engine donated to the museum at his request. This would be an amazing act in itself, made more so by the fact that Bezos, through his company Blue Origin, is at the cutting edge of rocket technology today.

The Apollo F-1 cone-shaped engines, arrayed in a cluster of five at the base of each rocket, each delivered 1.5 million pounds of thrust and burned 6,000 pounds of rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen every second. 600px-SaturnF1EngineDiagram

The massive engines, each more than 18.5 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter, burned for just a few minutes, long enough to boost the 50-ton Saturn V rocket to the edge of space.

Then the first stage, including the engines, fell away and plunged some 40 miles back to Earth and into the Atlantic, as NASA planned. What is perhaps surprising is how these engines, which afterall were designed by an ex-German 2nd World War officer Werner von Braun, are still so incredible even by today’s standards.

policeman with engine
A British policeman examines the wreckage of Von Braun’s early work on the streets on London during World War II
Saturn V engines
The Saturn V with 5 of the F1 engines. Credit: NASA

“This is still in some ways the most remarkable rocket engine ever engineered” says Jeff Bezos

Then he added, “That’s a little embarrassing. It’s 2015.”

But Bezos has less to be embarrassed about than most, as Blue Origin has been quietly getting on with the job of working on efficient engines, and recoverable rocket boosters. At its first attempt in April this year (2015) the rocket successfully flew to 58 miles, and the capsule landed well, however the booster was not recovered okay on this occasion. For Bezos and Blue Origin thought, its still early days, and there’s a great deal more to come from this exciting venture.

Thanks to Seattle Times and Bezos Expeditions for some material 

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