NASA hunts down a man selling a stolen rocket engine online

Mike Wehner, Tecca

As kids, many of us dreamed of one day jetting into space and exploring the final frontier, but it seems even some adults just can't shake their obsession with space flight. In a year-end report(PDF) from NASA's Inspector General, Paul Martin, the organization details an incident earlier this year where a genuine NASA rocket engine appeared for sale on an online auction site, prompting investigators to spring into action.

The engine — called an RL-10 — was built by the Pratt & Whitney company for NASA in the 1960s. The RL-10 powered the early Saturn rockets used by the space program many decades ago. Unlike some surplus supplies that the organization periodically sells to the public, the rocket engine appears to have been illegally taken from NASA without their knowledge. Estimates put the value of the RL-10 at around $200,000.

After tracking down the auction's creator, investigators were told it was obtained through a NASA employee who remains unnamed. The engine falls under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation as it could potentially be used to power a missile or other destructive device. NASA quickly confiscated it to prevent it changing hands further. It's unclear who — if anyone — would have been in the market for a $200,000 rocket motor, but if you've been feverishly searching for the finishing touch to your own do-it-yourself spacecraft, it appears you missed your chance.

[via NewScientist]

This article originally appeared on Tecca

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