As reported this week by quite a few sources (Newsday article here), Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, accompanied by his vast wealth, has discovered what are believed to be (as CNN puts it): “… the F-1 engines that powered the Saturn V rocket carrying Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 mission to the moon…”. The two primary newsworthy events here are: a) they’re possibly intact? Wow! and b) they were found in 14,000 feet of water (c? rich peoples deep pockets = deep sea). Of course, the cynical side of me wonders if Bezos chose this week to make the announcement so as not to be overshadowed by James Cameron’s Abyss descent. Which then leads me to question whether Bezos might simply have more money than he knows what to do with and whether this is the best use of his money.
Neat-o or Eg-o? (Not the waffle)
So the real question for aviation/space lovers is this: is this really a great endeavor, or is it just kind of nice he’s doing it? For my $0.02, I’m not sure this venture is an entirely useful investment. While I do think Cameron’s ‘third person to do it, and first in 50 years’ headline is worthy, I believe so in part because new science may be performed and new technology developed. And not to be taken wrong, I’m all for exploration for the sake of exploration, but this engine recovery thing to me seems more like….nostalgia.
When they raise the engine(s), what do we learn other than that we can raise heavy engines? I think I’d rather see Bezos use the money for other things that actually advance aviation and space, like helping his company Blue Origin to not crash another spacecraft.
So lets say you’re a muti-billionaire, and you’re dying to put you money into something space or aviation-related. You’ve already got a spaceship company; what else…. how about do somehting good? Like donate a FLARM traffic collision warning device to all light aircraft owners, and push the FAA to make it mandatory? (We had an apparent mid-air collision in Colorado last week, which probably could have been avoided by two of those.) Wow, that would be useful. Or maybe fund 1000 scholarships for aeronautical engineers? Or…the list goes on.
Does spending what surely must be millions on this venture (they’re not releasing figures) justify this particular attempt? While I think it would be great to see these engines in a museum (NASA still claims wnership), I don’t think I need to see the actual engines, where a model, or a test engine of the same variety might be provided. Such as the F1 engine here on display in Huntsville, Alabama.