HUTCHINSON, Kansas – Visitors can watch the preservation process of an important part of American history.
The F-1 engine is responsible for sending Americans to the moon, as well as numerous Apollo missions into space.
One of those engines was recently recovered and is now being preserved at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson.
They powered Americans to the moon, then sat buried in the ocean floor for nearly 40 years.
"The force of impact coupled with immense super cooling of what was a superheated structure literally ripped the components apart," says Jim Remar, with the Cosmosphere Conservation and Restoration Lab.
The Cosmosphere and partners from WSU and KU are preserving 25,000 pounds of history recovered from the Atlantic Ocean in March.
Right now they're stabilizing the artifacts.
"Because it was at the bottom of the ocean over 40 years, it has erosion to sediment, also corrosion from salt, so we're trying to remove that so we spray 24/7 with water," explains Remar.
Then they'll begin the tedious process of identifying which mission this particular F-1 engine flew.
Remar says, "Each piece has its own serial/part number which is tied to a main number. NASA had the documentation so we can determine which missions these came from."
The goal of the project is not restoration but conservation.
"How it looks today, that's part of its history and life so we want the artifact to tell the full story, 40 years it spent on the bottom of the ocean," says Remar.
The story of the most powerful American liquid-fueled rocket engine ever developed.
"I'm sure we're going to get surprised, I hope it doesn't throw a curve to us but I think we've got the right staff to handle any type of project," assures Remar.
The process of conserving the F-1 engine will take about two years.
After that, NASA will decide where the engine's permanent home will be.
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