James Lovell Gemini 7 Space Log for Auction

. September 24, 2009

Gemini 7 pilot James Lovell’s personal log, written during his first space flight, Dec. 4-18, 1965, forms the emotional philosophical centerpiece of Heritage Auction Galleries’ Oct. 8 Signature® Space Exploration Auction at the company’s Uptown Dallas headquarters. The log, which is one of the earliest descriptions of the earth as seen from an orbiting spacecraft, is estimated at $10,000-$12,500.

Few American epochs inspire such fascination and respect as human kind’s quest to set foot on the moon, and there are no more revered American heroes than the first generations of NASA astronauts, whose lives were literally on the line constantly as they wrestled with newly evolving technology to achieve feats dreamed of only in the realm of science fiction a scant few years before. This was serious business, and the original commanders and pilots of the U.S. space program of necessity kept their emotions in check, and their feelings to themselves.

During the Gemini 7 mission, however, for a few brief moments Lovell took pencil to paper, let his guard down and gave voice to the stirring of his soul as he gazed at the planet during what was then the longest manned space light (14 days). The result is a moving testament to the transformational nature of space travel that many astronauts would only admit to years after their labors were complete.

“As the acceleration built up, the horizon came into view,” Lovell wrote, “Absolutely beautiful – black sky – bright blue band around the horizon and dazzling white clouds… Spacecraft separation accomplished and commencing the turn around… we see sitting majestically behind us – the second stage of the booster. Brilliant silver in the sunshine – venting fuel that forms a million stars around it…”

Heritage Senior Historian and Chief Cataloger Michael Riley, who has personally handled much of the singular space memorabilia that has come through Heritage in the last few years, is as impressed by Lovell’s candor as Lovell himself was of the view. “You really never see this side of these men,” he said. “This is clearly the thoughts of a man marveling at the glory of the planet and of human achievement.”

“I can’t get over the beauty of the earth from here,” write Lovell. “Sunsets are fantastic – all shades of blue… 0g is amazing – I wonder if I will get used to 1g when I get back to earth? This book just floats in front of me when I let go of it…”

Now an erudite collector will have the chance to own the book that once floated in outer space in front of Lovell. The lot comes with a letter of authenticity from Commander Lovell himself, who has maintained possession of the log since the original flight.

Collectors put a great premium on astronaut-worn wristwatches, especially those that have been to the moon. Most noteworthy are the Omega watches, the official timepiece of the Space Program Accordingly, Apollo17 Mission Commander Ron Evans’ personal Rolex, flown aboard the space craft and brought to the surface aboard to Lunar Module, is expected to generate a great deal of excitement among collectors – particularly as it is one of only two Rolex watches absolutely known to have made it to the moon.It carries an estimate of $60,000-$80,000.

“This watch comes to us directly from the widow of Commander Evans himself,” said Riley, “is inscribed by him and, as far as we know, this is only moon flown Rolex that has come up for auction.”

Another spectacular lot, directly from the collection of Commander Evans, is an Apollo 17 Lunar Module Flown Spacecraft Identification plate, one of three such plates flown to the moon on Apollo 17 and returned to Grumman Aerospace Corporation. Grumman subsequently presented one ID plate to each crew member of the flight, to this day the very last lunar landing mission. It is estimated at $30,000-$50,000.

A “Mercury Seven” NASA Astronaut Group One photo, signed by all, is bound to have collectors of important early space memorabilia buzzing. This rare photo, featuring the original septet deemed to have “the right stuff,” is one of the most sought after of astronaut-signed images. It shows the astronauts inspecting a Mercury Atlas model, and was one of a series of photos taken April 30, 1959, at Langley Research Center. All seven of these brave men who laid the groundwork for America’s space program have signed with the earliest forms of their signatures. It is estimated at $7,000-$9,000.

Further Highlights include, but are not limited to:

Apollo 8 Flown Crew Log Directly from the Personal Collection of Mission Command Module Pilot James Lovell, Certified and Signed: Thirty-nine pages of this loose-leaf book bear the detailed and fascinating handwritten notes, readings, calculations, and drawings made by Lovell during this historic spaceflight, the first manned mission to the moon, December 21-27, 1968. Estimate: $30,000-$40,000.

Apollo 16 Lunar Module Flown Star Chart, with Lunar Dust, and G&N Dictionary Star List Originally from the Collection of Mission Lunar Module Pilot Charlie Duke, Certified and Signed: Not one, but two important objects that spent three days on the moon in the Lunar Module Orion during the flight of Apollo 16, April 16-27, 1972 with crewmembers John Young, Ken Mattingly, and Charlie Duke. Estimate: $30,000-$35,000.

Skylab I (SL-2) Flown Pressure Suit Patches (Four) Directly from the Personal Collection of Mission Pilot Paul Weitz, Certified and Signed: The patch, logo, flag, and name tag from the Skylab I mission as matted, framed, and presented to Paul Weitz by the Johnson Space Center Crew Systems Division. Skylab was the United States’ first space station; it incurred severe damage during its launch on May 14, 1973. The Skylab I mission, with Pete Conrad, Paul Weitz, and Joe Kerwin aboard, was its first visitation by a human crew; their first priority was to effect repairs to prevent the station from being rendered inoperable. They stayed 28 days, establishing a new flight endurance record. This was Weitz’s first space mission. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000.

Apollo 16 Lunar Module Flown Crewman Optical Alignment Sight (COAS) Directly from the Personal Collection of Apollo 16 Commander John Young, Certified and Signed: One of the most impressive and important pieces of precision lunar module-flown equipment Heritge has handled. Used for lunar module/ command module docking maneuvers, it flew on the Apollo 16 Lunar Module Orion, which spent nearly three full days on the moon’s surface. Estimate: $12,000-$15,000.

Apollo 11 Flown American Flag, Crew-Signed on Presentation Certificate: A silk U.S. flag mounted to a color certificate printed with the words: “This Flag Traveled to the Moon with Apollo 11, the First Manned Lunar Landing, July 20, 1969/ APOLLO 11/ July 16-24, 1969/ Armstrong – Collins – Aldrin”. Printed on the lower area is the Apollo 11 mission insignia surrounded by the crew’s authentic signatures. At the very bottom are printed the immortal words Armstrong spoke as he stepped onto the moon’s surface: “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

Apollo Guidance Computer: Original Display and Keyboard (DSKY) Unit: A 15 pound, 8″ x 8″ x 6.5″ Raytheon-manufactured data entry and display device with 19 keys and a 21 digit display. A unit like this was mounted into the control panel of each lunar module and two were found in each command module. This was the astronaut’s interface allowing access to the groundbreaking Apollo Guidance Computer, developed by MIT, on board. It permitted the astronauts to collect and provide flight information and was very important in the precise landings on the moon needed for a successful mission. Not space flown. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000.

Heritage Auction Galleries is the world’s third largest auction house, and by far the largest auctioneer of rare collectibles, with annual sales more than $700 million, and 450,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage’s auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.HA.com.

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