Saturday, April 7, 2012

Big Blast, Big Bucks

So much money, so little to do.
Wired.com reports that billionaire Jeff Bezos has announced plans to zip down to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, and pick up at least one of the F-1 engines that blasted Apollo 11 into space.
This is the guy who founded and is CEO of Amazon.com, so he's gotta lotta dosh! And it's the sorta thing an ├╝ber-rich sod does on a whim one weekend. He's already involved in several extreme undertakings, such as the private spaceflight company Blue Origin. His team of engineers has recently used state-of-the-art deep-sea sonar and actually located the Apollo 11 engines lying 14,000ft below the ocean's surface, so he's now making plans to raise them.
Wealthy patrons seem to be bringing about a resurgence in deep oceanic exploration, with director James Cameron's recent dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench (March 2012) and Richard Branson's similar plans to reach the ocean floor.
If recovered, the engines would be a crowning piece of Apollo memorabilia for Bezos. He says watching the moon landing aged 5 helped inspire his passion in science, engineering, and exploration: "With this endeavour, maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore."
The monstrous five F-1 engines were the powerhouse of the Saturn V rocket, which remains the largest launch vehicle ever built in US. They produced 7.7m pounds of thrust over 2.5 minutes and brought the rocket up to an altitude of 38 miles.
At the end of their burn, they fell back to Earth and splashed down into the Atlantic. The remaining parts of the spacecraft brought the Apollo 11 crew into lunar orbit and landed men on the Moon on July 20th., 1969.
Bezos has no idea what condition the engines are in, after crashing into the sea and sitting in corrosive salt water for the past 40 years. But he is planning to find out. And while the venture is being carried out with private money, Bezos says the rockets remain the property of NASA. 
Well, as he donates millions of buckeroos annually to charity, I guess he's allowed a little bit of self-indulgence...

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