Wednesday marked the 47th anniversary of the day when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first humans on the moon. Apollo 11 took these men to the lunar surface, and what better way to celebrate that anniversary than selling off a bunch of their stuff at auction?
To mark the anniversary of that historic event, Bonham Auction house in New York, New York held its annual “Space History” auction and sold off a rack of space race memorabilia. President Barack Obama signed a bill four years ago that gave the astronauts sole ownership of any memorabilia they kept from their missions, so most of the lots in the auction are from the American space program, but there’s some pretty cool Soviet stuff in there as well.
The auction included pictures of the men who launched themselves into orbit, launch and flight manuals from their missions, maps of the lunar surface and diagrams of launch windows, as well as the compulsory collection of concept models among the stuff being sold.
Inverse looked over the catalog and watched the auction. Below is some of the coolers things that went on the block.
Actual Spacesuit from ISS Expedition 6: SOLD for $62,500
NASA grounded all spaced shuttles after the Columbia disaster in February of 2003. Thing is, there were still Americans aboard the International Space Station (ISS0) and flight engineer Don Petit was one of them. He and his crew were brought to the ISS on Space Shuttle Endeavor in November 2002 and were supposed to come back in March, then the Columbia disaster happened in February. After a few months, Petit’s return aboard the Soyuz was secured. He was the first American to ride in the Russian space program’s flagship and he and the suit took the ride down two months later than planned. Now that same suit sold at auction for more than $60k.
Astronaut’s Gold Hands: SOLD for $155,000
Space is a vacuum, so not only can people not hear you scream, but any leakage in the space suits would cause an extremely painful death as air is sucked forcefully out of an astronaut’s suit and into the void. As a result, every part of an astronaut’s spacesuit has to fit perfectly to their body. To get this skin-tight fit, plaster casts were made of every astronaut’s hands in order to dip the molds that make gloves. Those casts, which include in their collection perfect plaster reproductions of the hands of Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9), Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11) took the highest bid of the day so far. The hands were later coated in a gold lacquer for posterity. Originally listed for between $6,000-$9,000, the owner has to be happy with the result.
NASA Flight Simulator Chair: SOLD for: $4,750
It’s not really a flight simulator chair per se, but more of an equipment simulator. Like the full-size version of a space Tonka truck. This piece which looks more like a high school administrator’s desk chair with an Atari joystick strapped to it was used in the earliest days of the space program to help astronauts train on the famous Canadaarm, a device, “used to lift satellites out of the cargo bay, or retrieve satellites already in orbit for repair,” according to the Bonham auction description. This item was a steal, probably because it was never in space itself, and went for a paltry $4,750.
Original Gemini 133P Training Assembly: Reserve not Met
According to the Bonham auction description, this item is, “Essentially a duplicate of the display panels and instruments found inside the Gemini spacecraft.” The longer Gemini missions came after the Mercury missions and helped perfect techniques such as orbital maneuvers such as meeting and docking in space. This piece comes in four separate parts and was used as a training aid for at for those missions Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. This item is still in the possession of the owner back in Houston, Texas and apparently no one wanted to go pick it up as per the terms of the auction. It seems a steal at between $60,000 - $90,000, but didn’t sell, as no bid met the reserve.
Full-Scale Vintage Model of Sputnik: SOLD for $269,000
The “priciest lot of the day” honor goes to an item that was never in space and isn’t American — but was used to design the first manmade object to orbit the Earth. The full-scale live testing model of Sputnik was provided to the auction by scramjet engineer Alexander Roudakov. The model is nearly two feet in diameter and weighs more than 100 pounds and has four antennae and a working radio transmitter, but the 12-volt battery is not included. Professor Roudakov has to be happy though, the model’s estimated sale price was between $10,000 - $15,000, so he made out pretty well.