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The Apollo F-1 Engine Search and Recovery Team

The Apollo F-1 Engine Search and Recovery Team, using the best of modern technology and skill, worked together to recover one of the most valuable symbols of space exploration history and the quest for knowledge, linking our reach for the stars with our journey to the ocean depths.

Over the course of two expeditions, in 2011 and 2013, the Apollo F-1 Team searched 180 square miles of ocean bottom, at a depth of 14,000 feet, to locate and recover the F-1 rocket engines that were used to propel the Saturn V rockets into orbit during NASA’s Apollo missions in the 1960s and 1970s. The expeditions discovered the remains of several Apollo missions and, in 2013, the team recovered the components of two complete F-1 engines from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, including the center F-1 engine that launched the historic Apollo 11 spacecraft carrying the first astronauts to set foot on the moon.

The journey to locate the engines began as the vision of one man, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, whose goal was to find and recover the awesome F-1 engines from Apollo, bring them back to light, conserve the engines and put them on public display, all in the hope of inspiring young people to invent and explore. After several years of planning, a core team of highly qualified, skilled individuals, lead by David Concannon, FN ’96, engaged in two lengthy at-sea trips to complete the mission. The entire Apollo F-1 Search and Recovery Team is comprised of over 100 people, many of whom provided support on land while the core team was at sea and include the ships’ crews, NASA officials, conservators at the Kansas Cosmosphere along with a myriad of other support people.

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste