A bolt of Yuri Gagarin’s Vostok Spacecraft, sheared by the heat of re-entering the atmosphere, along with a Sputnik 1 Tag from the Fourth Arm of the Satellite inscribed and initialed by Sergei Pavlovich Korolev and given to Oleg Ivanovsky, the head of the secret Sputnik program, headline Heritage Auctions’ June 3 Signature® Space Exploration Auction, being held in Dallas and simulcast to Tucson, AZ in conjunction with Spacefest III.
“The spring of 2011 marks a milestone in manned space travel, as it was 50 years ago in April that Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made mankind’s first foray into space with his orbital flight in Vostok 1,” said Michael Riley, Senior Historian at Heritage Auctions. “Less than a month later, on May 5, 1961, American astronaut Alan Shepard successfully completed a suborbital flight in Freedom 7. Twenty days after that JFK announced the goal of sending an American to the moon and back. The race, as they say, was on. This auction is full of relics dating back to that important and exciting time.”
The centerpiece of the auction is the amazing grouping of Russian Space material from the collection of Dr. David Sauber, much of which has been on display in museums and at public exhibitions across the nation. The two most intriguing offerings, as mentioned above, are a 2″ hollow bolt, which held together the Vostok 1’s return capsule that Yuri Gagarin rode into history on April 12, 1961 in the world’s first manned space flight (estimate: $4,000+) and a tag from Sputnik 1, which was on the Fourth Arm of the Satellite with an inscription and initials from Sergei Pavlovich Korolev and given to Oleg Ivanovsky, the general constructor of OKB-1 for the successful launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957 (estimate: $1,500+).
“Korolev was the top secret head of the Russian space program, which began the Space Age with the launch of the Sputnik 1,” said Riley. “Korolev and Ivanovsky were two of the most important men in the history of space exploration and any memento from the Sputnik 1 is extremely rare and highly sought-after.”
One of the auction’s most intriguing, not to mention rare, lots is an original full-sized model of the Vanguard 1 satellite, one of only a handful ever made, originally used as a lecture aid by Bell telephone. The Vanguard 1 was only the fourth satellite ever launched into space, in 1958. It still circles the earth today, the oldest man-made satellite to do so. It is estimated at $4,000+.
“This is a fascinating and odd little piece of space exploration history,” said Riley. “Judging by the interest in this item created among even Heritage’s ‘we’ve seen it all’ employees, and the excitement in the numerous visitors to our offices, bidding will be fierce for this historic piece.”
Every Heritage Space Exploration auction offers a wide variety of astronaut related material, and in this auction, via connections to the astronauts themselves, Heritage has assembled a large grouping from astronauts Jack Lousma, John Young and Al Worden, with a smaller grouping of items from Michael Collins, from the widow of Roger Chaffee, Dr. Edgar Mitchell and the son of Ed White II. One of the most interesting pieces from this grouping is Roger Chaffee’s original acceptance letter into the astronaut program, stating “It is a great pleasure to inform you that you have been selected… to participate in Astronaut training.” It is estimated at $800+.
Three very special signed pieces in the auction account, in combination, for autographs from every astronaut that flew on a Mercury, Gemini or Apollo mission, making these among the most sought-after type of collectible of their respective kinds. They break down as follows: “Mercury Spacecraft” rare McDonnell lithograph signed by the six astronauts who flew in the program (estimate: $5,000+); “Gemini Spacecraft” rare McDonnell lithograph signed by all 16 Gemini astronauts (estimate: $10,000+) and the “Historic First Photo of Earth from Deep Space” signed by all 29 Apollo astronauts (estimate: $30,000+).
Great artwork directly from the brushes of the astronauts themselves is always a high point in Heritage Space auction, and this event includes some truly great work, including a major painting by moonwalker Alan Bean of astronaut John Young on the moon. This striking image is estimated at $150,000+. The auction also includes two paintings by NASA insider Ron Woods: a 4’ x 5’ image of Jack Lousma during a spacewalk (estimate: $20,000+) and a haunting image from the Mercury program of Gordon Cooper’s spacesuit (estimate: $5,000+).