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Apollo rocket parts retrieved from Atlantic by Amazon CEO's private team

This image provided by Bezos Expeditions shows a thrust chamber of an Apollo F-1 engine on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in March 2013. An expedition led by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pulled up two rocket engines, including this one, that helped boost Apollo astronauts to the moon. Bezos and NASA announced the recovery on Wednesday, March 20, 2013. The sunken engines were part of the Saturn V rocket used to bring astronauts to the moon during the 1960s and 1970s. After liftoff, they fell into the ocean as planned. (Courtesy of Bezos Expeditions)

March 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Pieces of two of NASA's Apollo rocket engines were retrieved from the Atlantic Ocean floor, it was announced Wednesday.

The engine parts were located and recovered by an expedition privately funded by Amazon.com's CEO Jeff Bezos. The parts were raised during three weeks at sea. They were to be brought to Cape Canaveral, Fla., the original launch pad.

The Apollo program was active in the 1960s and '70s. Astronauts were launched using Saturn V rockets. The rockets, composed of five engines weighing 18,000 pounds each, fell to the ocean as designed, with no plans to retrieve them.

The recovered engine parts were originally thought to be from the Apollo 11 mission that landed men on the moon, but it was not clear due to deteriorated serial numbers. NASA was assisting in the identification of the parts.

Last year, the Bezos team used sonar to spot the sunken engines resting nearly 3 miles deep in the Atlantic and 360 miles from Cape Canaveral. At the time, the Internet mogul said the artifacts were part of the Apollo 11 mission that gave the world "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Bezos and his team sent underwater robots to hoist the engines, which are NASA property. In a statement, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden called the recovery "a historic find."

Bezos plans to restore the engine parts, which included a nozzle, turbine, thrust chamber and heat exchanger. Amazon.com Inc. spokesman Drew Herdener declined Wednesday to reveal the cost of the recovery or restoration.

NASA has previously said an engine would head for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. If a second was recovered, it would be displayed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where Amazon.com is based.

The ocean floor off Cape Canaveral is strewn with jettisoned rockets and flight parts from missions since the beginning of the Space Age. What survived after plunging into the ocean is unknown.

In one of the more famous recoveries, a private company in 1999 hoisted Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule that accidentally sank in the Atlantic after splashdown in 1961. The capsule is now featured at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Besides running the online retailer, Bezos founded Blue Origins, one of the companies with a NASA contract to develop a spaceship to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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