What was once high-tech space exploration gear could soon be yours, as hundreds of space history relics will come up for auction in the next few months. On April 8, Bonhams auction house will offer up a treasure trove of international space exploration artifacts.
Space memorabilia up for grabs include early generation spacesuits, ballistic missile parts, operations manuals, flight control panels, space shuttle beverages, patches, emblems, and a Soviet machete.
Designed by celebrated rocket engine designer Alexei M. Isayev, this liquid propellant sustainer powerplant was part of a Soviet surface to air engine.
Bonhams' 'Space History' auctions happen annually, focusing on the now historic space exploration from the early days of Project Mercury and Vostok through the Gemini missions, the Apollo moon landings, Soyuz, Skylab, ASTP, and beyond.
Project Mercury was the first US space program which aimed to place a spacecraft into Earth's orbit. Development of the Mercury suits began in 1959. NASA selected B.F. Goodrich for the design, which was essentially a modified US Navy's Mark IV high-altitude pressure suit
Snug-fitting and limited in their mobility, the pressurized suits evolved to include jointed breaks to better facilitate movement in the shoulders, knees, and elbows.
Amanda Young of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection said, "The fabric was made by the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. (3M), and the silver color came from an aluminized powder coating glued to the green nylon fabric used for the exterior layer, prior to suit construction. Unfortunately, during the intervening years, this coating has in most instances, worn away. Many of these early spacesuits now have brown and green patches where the aluminized coating has deteriorated and the glue and nylon have begun to show through, and give the appearance of being 'rusty.'"
The "CSM Rendezvous Book," part of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Training manuals, is up for auction. The 65-page manual includes instructions on docking and undocking and data pad grids for use during maneuvers and navigation.
This 7-pound oxidizer-transfer Apollo Saturn V J-2 engine actuator valve was manufactured by Rocketdyne.
The propellant utilization valve ensures the simultaneous exhaustion of the contents of the propellant tanks. During engine operation, propellant level sensing devices in the tanks control the valve gate position for adjusting the oxidizer flow to ensure simultaneous exhaustion of fuel and oxidizer.
Symbolizing the end of the "space race," on July 17, 1975, the Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft docked, and the commanders, Thomas Stafford and Alexey Leonov, shook hands through the open hatch of the Soyuz, a moment in space history whose symbolism cannot be overstated. The astronauts and cosmonauts then conducted experiments, exchanged certificates and these 4x6-inch flags, and ate together.
Werner von Braun, seen here inspecting a camera in 1972, was a famed NASA rocket engineer who conceived of the manned orbital scientific space station which would become Skylab. The photograph comes signed by von Braun. The framed print is available starting at $1,000 to $1,500.
This collection of 70 photographs chronicles the development of the spacesuit over the years by NASA and the International Latex Corp. (ILC), whose labs developed the designs, originating from George P. Durney, the Apollo suit project manager known as the "Father of the Space Suit."
Two square plastic containers, at 4x4 inches, read "Kona coffee w/ cream, 8 oz hot water" or "Tea, 8 oz hot or cold water." Both are stamped with a red "Training" label. A layer of crystallized freeze-dried coffee or powdered tea can be seen inside.
This missile nose cone eject rocket motor was used for separating the nose cone from the booster of a Polaris missile. The Polaris was a solid-fuel nuclear-armed two-stage submarine that launched ballistic missile. Built during the Cold War for the United States Navy by Lockheed Martin, the Polaris had its first test launch at Cape Canaveral on January 7, 1960.
While it was not the first submarine to launch a nuclear missile, its use of solid-propellant propulsion was considered revolutionary, as it permitted a substantial reduction in the size of the missile. Not only was the Polaris substantially smaller and lighter than earlier ballistic missiles, it also benefited from a superior launch system, enabling the missile to be propelled to the surface from a fully submerged submarine.
This triangular blade machete has a sharpened fore-edge and a head with a removable black, rubber handle. A long heavy-weave nylon string is attached to the handle which is removable from the blade's base via two screw pins.
All Russian Soyuz flights carried a triangular machete blade like this, to assist the cosmonaut crew after a remote unscheduled landing in a strange land. The machete is a versatile tool with the ability to cut brush and small trees, loosen soil, and defend against wild animals.
Own a piece of history with the results of the "Second United States Manned Orbital Space Flight, May 24, 1962." The debrief includes discussion of spacecraft systems, photography, and space science experiments, as well as re-entry and recovery issues, plus a pilot's report by Scott Carpenter.
Comparisons with John Glenn's Friendship 7 flight are noted, and the document describes the Aurora 7 spacecraft and the Atlas launch vehicle performance. An appendix provides the complete flight (air to ground) communications transcript. Signed and inscribed: "Scott Carpenter, Aurora 7" on the front cover.
This issue of Life magazine from September 14, 1959 features all the Mercury astronauts, and is signed by Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, and Wally Schirra on the front cover. Each of the seven astronauts has written an article on important aspects of the Mercury space flight program and his desire to participate. It's extensively illustrated with early training photographs. Time-Life held an exclusive contract to publish the story of the astronauts.