Jeff Bezos’ hobby: Scavenging NASA debris from the ocean floor

Debris from the Apollo 11 mission retrieved by Bezos Expeditions in March.

When not running Amazon, what does CEO Jeff Bezos do? Go looking for NASA’s garbage.

On Friday, Bezos confirmed that his team had retrieved the Apollo 11 No. 5 engine from the ocean floor on a mission in March. That was what they had hoped, but with the pieces stamped with serial numbers missing or corroded after decades under 14,000 feet of seawater, they weren’t sure if idenfitication was possible.

Now there is specific evidence that this hunk of metal is of the engine that first sent man to the moon.

On the Bezos Expeditions website, Bezos writes, “One of the conservators who was scanning the objects with a black light and a special lens filter has made a breakthrough discovery – ‘2044' – stenciled in black paint on the side of one of the massive thrust chambers. 2044 is the Rocketdyne serial number that correlates to NASA number 6044, which is the serial number for F-1 Engine No. 5 from Apollo 11. The intrepid conservator kept digging for more evidence, and after removing more corrosion at the base of the same thrust chamber, he found it – ‘Unit No 2044' – stamped into the metal surface.”


The announcement is well-timed. July 20 marks the 44th anniversary of the moon landing.

In his corporate guise, Bezos often sounds like a hard-nosed businessman -- but his space-program scavenging shows another side. “Jeff Bezos’ child-like love and wonder of space and rockets,” Gizmodo writes, “has yielded many a great thing.”


The narcissistic mind and ‘Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.’

Follow the pasta trail around the globe in ‘On the Noodle Road’

Looking for the artisanal life in ‘Telling Room,’ and ‘Gaining Ground’

Carolyn Kellogg: Join me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+