Ars Technica has an amazing, in depth article about NASA’s taking apart an F-1 rocket (used on the Apollo) to figure out exactly how it was built, and to possibly reuse it for the future rocket system NASA is building for asteroid and Mars missions in the future:
“The engineers removed the soot and re-scanned, but even this seemingly trivial accumulation yielded valuable data—sooting is a problem with kerosene-powered engines, so understanding how it builds up inside the engine could reduce its occurrence.
‘Because they didn’t have the analytical tools we have today for minimizing weight, everything was very robust,’ noted Betts, when I asked what they found as they tore down the engine. ‘That’s apparent in really every aspect of the engine. The welds—’
‘Oh, the welds!’ interrupted Case. ‘The welds on this engine are just a work of art, and everything on here was welded.’ The admiration in his voice was obvious. ‘Today, we look at ways of reducing that, but that was something I picked up on from this engine: just how many welds there were, and how great they looked.’”