Kids are fascinated by different things. Some kids love Disney movies, while others prefer the DC Comics superhero movies. Some kids love building things, while others dream of going into space. Most kids grow up and still have the same passion for their childhood fascinations; however, most don’t haven’t taken their childhood fascination as far as one man. A billionaire put his money towards living out a childhood fantasy.
The 1969 Moon Landing
Over 600 million people tuned in on their black and white TVs to watch the 1969 moon landing. It was set to be the most amazing event in the history of mankind. One of the millions who were turning in was a five-year-old boy in Houston; Texas named Jeff. He sat in front of his TV with his family, watching the countdown in anticipation. Even at the age of five, he knew that what he was about to see would be one of the most incredible moments in history.
44 Years Later
The five-year-old boy grew up, and 44-years-later, his name is known all over the world. That little boy named Jeff was Jeff Bezos, and he grew up to be the founder and CEO of Amazon. He is also ranked as the richest man on the planet. He is worth $112 billion. Understanding how much money this really is can be difficult. To make it easy to understand, think of it this way. When Jeff spends $1.7 million, it is the same as if you went into a store and spent $1. Despite all of his hard work and his success, he has always held onto his fascination with space exploration. While running one of the most successful companies in the history of the world, his mind often goes back to the day that Apollo 11 blasted off toward the moon, and the Saturn V engines fell down to Earth.
When Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins headed toward space in the Saturn V, the S-1C disconnected and fell into the Atlantic. When the rocket reached the highest level of the atmosphere, the S-II was also cast off. It dropped from great heights into the ocean, and it was never seen again. The components fell to the ocean floor, where it has been rusting since 1969. Everyone thought that it would never be seen again, but Jeff couldn’t forget about it.
In 2012, Jeff created his venture capitalist group, Bezos Expeditions. He used his money to fund various sectors. It was through this company that Jeff was going to live his childhood dreams. He wanted to find Apollo 11’s engines off the coast of Cape Canaveral. The first part of the project was easy. They used sonar detection in the area where the engines were said to have dropped. Jeff wasn’t sure what conditions they would be in. They hit the water with great force, and the saltwater could have done a number on the metal. Jeff was sure that since the engines were made of some very tough materials, it was time to bring the engine to the surface.
Jeff gathered a team of experts to take him out to the location. He hired people to dive down to where the engines lie and then bring them to the surface. He was determined not to return home without his prize. In February 2013, the team boarded the underwater exploration vessel, Seabed Worker. During the three-week voyage, they planned to plunge 14,000 feet to the bottom of the Atlantic to pull the spacecraft to the surface.
Finding the Spacecraft
Remotely operated vehicles went down to the ocean floor, and the camera spotted what was left of the spacecraft. It hadn’t been seen by the human eye since 1969. This was the culmination of Jeff’s childhood dreams. They used giant cranes and slowly reeled in the massive engines. Jeff stood on the deck, waiting in anticipation. Jeff remembers when they brought the spacecraft on the ship, and he said, “Each piece we bring on deck conjures for me the thousands of engineers who worked together back then to do what for all time had been thought surely impossible.
Before Jeff could celebrate, he wanted to make sure that it was actually the Apollo 11 engines. To do this, they had to check the serial numbers on the engines. Since the engines had been underwater for decades, they had to be restored. When the ship docked in Florida, the engines were shipped to Kansas Cosmosphere for professional restoration. They were hoping to see the code 2044. When Jeff found out that the serial number matched, he was thrilled.
Jeff didn’t bring up the engines to keep for himself. After they were cleaned and restored, he sent them to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. Jeff says that the idea of finding the engines just popped into his head one day while he was sitting on the couch watching TV. Today, it is in a museum.