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Amazon's Jeff Bezos vows to recover Apollo 11 engines from ocean

Jeff BezosAtlantic OceanScienceNASAAmazon.com Inc.E-Commerce IndustryNeil Armstrong

Ever wonder what kind of random hobbies you’d take up if you were a billionaire?

Well, for Amazon.com  founder and CEO Jeff Bezos -- worth $18.4 billion according to Forbes -- it’s about tracking down old rocket engines. Did we mention they’re buried in the ocean?

The 48-year-old self-made billionaire said Wednesday on his blog, appropriately called Bezos Expeditions, that he was “excited to report” that his team of “undersea pros” had found the engines that helped launch the Apollo 11 mission.

Quick history lesson: On July 16, 1969, five F-1 engines fired, burned for a few minutes and plunged back to Earth into the Atlantic Ocean as planned. A few days later, Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon.

Since then, the exact whereabouts of the F-1 engines were unknown. For most people, this would remain an unsolved mystery. For Bezos, who was 5 years old during the historic Apollo 11 mission, it became a lingering question that he thought he could solve.

Bezos said the team had used “state-of-the-art deep sea sonar” to locate the engines 14,000 feet below the surface and was making plans to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor.

“We don't know yet what condition these engines might be in -- they hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years,” Bezos said. “On the other hand, they're made of tough stuff, so we'll see.”

Bezos said the engines were still the property of NASA and if the team -- which is being privately funded -- was able to recover any one of the engines that “started mankind on its first journey to another heavenly body, I imagine that NASA would decide to make it available to the Smithsonian for all to see.”

He also noted that if they were able to retrieve more than one engine, he would ask NASA to consider making it available to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where Amazon is based.

This is just the latest oddball endeavor from Bezos, who’s got an eclectic range of interests besides running the world’s largest online retailer. Among them: The “10,000 Year Clock,” which he describes as a “special clock, designed to be a symbol, an icon for long-term thinking” that is to be built inside a mountain in West Texas.

“The vision was, and still is, to build a clock that will keep time for the next 10,000 years,” Bezos said, noting that the clock will tick once a year, where the century hand advances once every 100 years “and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium.”

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