NASA insisted Friday that it has dibs on rocket engines sitting deep on the Atlantic Ocean floor, a day after a wealthy adventurer announced the discovery of the prized pieces of space history.
Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos revealed Thursday that, using deep-sea sonar, a team had found the F-1 engines that powered the Saturn V rocket carrying Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 mission to the moon "lying 14,00 feet below the surface."
"We're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor," the billionaire investor and entrepreneur wrote.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, in his own statement Friday, applauded Bezos and his team for their "historic find" and wished them "all the luck in the world."
At the same time, he stated that any Apollo engine that's recovered belongs to the space agency.
"NASA does retain ownership of any artifacts recovered and would likely offer one of the Saturn V F-1 engines to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington under longstanding arrangements with the institution," Bolden said.
The NASA administrator added that he'd directed staff "to provide a smooth and expeditious disposition of any flight hardware recovered."
Bezos himself requested, in a message to NASA, that an F-1 engine or another space artifact be put on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. This could still happen if the "Smithsonian declines" to take an engine that's raised from the ocean's depths "or if a second engine is recovered," according to the NASA administrator.
"I sincerely hope all continues to go well for Jeff and Blue Origin, and that his team enjoys success and prosperity in every endeavor," said Bolden, referring to the Bezos-led venture into space flight. "All of us at NASA have our fingers crossed for success in his upcoming expedition of exploration and discovery."
Bezos said Thursday that the condition of the discovered engines, which slammed into the ocean more than 42 years ago and have been in the saltwater ever since, isn't known.