The Saturn V main F1 engines from Apollo 11 have been recovered from a depth of three miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Saturn V F1 engines were the most powerful rocket engines ever made. Each one produced over 1.5 million pounds of thrust. The five F1 engines on the Saturn V made it the most powerful launch vehicle ever at over 7.5 million pounds of thrust.
Just over forty years ago on May 14, 1973, I was lucky enough to be among the press and dignitaries sitting on the bleachers or standing in front of the turning basin at the Launch Complex 39 Press Site for the last ever Saturn V launch. I was 19 years old.
My best friend’s aunt was a professional photographer. She got each of us a press pass for the launch of the Skylab space station. For a teenage space fan, who had watched every manned launch since Alan Shepard’s first suborbital Mercury launch, this was truly “dying and going to heaven”.
For several days before the launch we got to go on exclusive tours of the launch site. We were able to see Walter Cronkite’s broadcast booth. NASA loaded us up with press packets and thick tomes of specifications. I can not begin to tell you how totally cool this was.
On launch day I was standing near the countdown clock in the picture above.
I was just three miles away from the launch pad. When the engines fired up, the sound of the F1 engines was felt as much as heard. The low base rumbling seemed to reach directly into my chest and vibrate my heart and lungs. As the Saturn V rose into the sky, I could smell the burned kerosene of the exhaust as I felt the waves of warm air wafting over me.
This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.