Jeff Bezos geeks out over rockets. That’s whether they’re pieces of space travel history found deep in the Atlantic Ocean or the reusable rocket his space launch company Blue Origins is cooking up.
“The BE-4 is a couple of things,” Bezos said Thursday about the new rocket. “One, its reusable. So it’s designed from the beginning to be reusable. The second thing is it uses liquid natural gas as the fuel instead of kerosene, which has some significant advantages. A little bit of an advantage in terms of performance, a big advantage in terms of reusability because of its cleanliness.”
The Amazon founder brought that same enthusiasm to his expedition to recover the rocket engine that NASA used to launch the Apollo 12 mission to the moon 46 years ago.
Starting Saturday, the F-1 engines from the launch of Apollo 12 and Apollo 16 go on temporary display at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. Bezos spoke at a preview Thursday, the Apollo 12 moon landing’s anniversary.
Bezos Expeditions pulled the engines from the bottom of the Atlantic two years ago.
“When you recover a historical artifact like this, and you put it in a museum, it’s not really about the past. It’s about today,” Bezos said. “It’s about building a 21st-century version of the F-1 engine. It’s about building reusable rockets. It’s about all the other things we do in our civilization that we want to push forward.”
The F-1 engines that powered those Apollo missions boosted a 40-story rocket from liftoff to the edge of space. They then separated with that first stage and fell to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Geoff Nunn, a curator with the museum, said the engines round out to the museum's Apollo 12 collection, which includes items from commander Pete Conrad.
“We have an excellent relationship with Pete Conrad's widow and have a lot of his artifacts here, so getting the engines here helps us complete that Apollo 12 story,” Nunn said.
The engine parts will be shown temporarily on their own until early next year. Eventually they'll be part a new permanent exhibit that showcases all the salvaged Apollo 12 and Apollo 16 F-1 remains.