Spacesuits And Moon Notes From Apollo 11 for Bonhams Space History Auction

Bonhams Space History sale on April 8 will feature nearly 300 artifacts related to decades of international space exploration, including genuine spacesuits, critical flight items from the famed Apollo 11 mission, lunar-flown American flags, rare photographs and astronauts’ personal effects.

Two top lots in the sale are from Apollo 11, the first spaceflight to put men on the moon. An emblem flown with the craft into lunar orbit, and signed by the most famous space crew in history – Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin – is estimated at $40,000-60,000.

Also from Apollo 11, and estimated at $35,000-45,000, is a checklist sheet with notes made by Buzz Aldrin while on the moon. Both sides of the sheet contain critical data that enabled Armstrong and Aldrin to return to earth. It is one of the most extensive sets of notations ever made on the lunar surface.

One of the more fascinating pieces in the sale is a spacesuit from the United States’ first manned flight program, Project Mercury (est. $8,000-12,000). Conducted between 1959 and 1963, Project Mercury aimed to put a human being into orbit around the earth. Bonhams will offer a beautiful example of a Phase 2 suit, made circa 1960, featuring the iconic silver coloring and an early “widow’s peak” helmet.

In addition to the iconic Project Mercury suit, Bonhams will offer a Russian Strizh spacesuit, designed to protect cosmonauts from ejection at altitudes up to 30 kilometers and speeds up to Mach 3 (est. $15,000-20,000). This rare example is one of only 27 created for test and training purposes between 1981-1991, many of which were damaged or destroyed. A NASA A6L prototype spacesuit will also be offered (est. $8,000-12,000).

Lunar-flown American flags are certain to attract attention. Highlights include a silk American flag carried to the moon by Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 mission (est. $20,000-30,000), as well as a stars and stripes carried by Fred Haise on the infamous Apollo 13 mission (est. $15,000-20,000). Haise intended to take the flag to the lunar surface, but the landing was scrubbed when an oxygen tank exploded causing a major electrical outage in the command and service modules.

Awe inspiring photographs and important signed portraits can be found throughout the sale. A NASA photograph of the lunar surface signed by all 12 moonwalkers is an extraordinarily rare offering (est. $8,000-12,000). Showing an Earth rise in the distance, the image was taken as the Apollo 16 command module orbited the moon. A Lunar Orbiter V panorama of the crater Copernicus is also available (est. $5,000-8,000). The 32 large silver gelatin prints are the most comprehensive view of the crater to date.

Technology aficionados will appreciate the remarkable models and equipment available in the sale. A motion picture ring sight used on the moon during Apollo 15 will be available (est. $20,000-30,000), as will a Mir space station control panel (est. $4,000-6,000), a five foot-tall Vostok space rocket model (est. $10,000-15,000) and a Saturn IB rocket model made by the Marshall Space Flight Center, showing the genius of Wernher von Braun and his team (est. $10,000-15,000).

Astronauts’ personal effects are bound to capture the imagination of bidders. Charles Conrad’s stowage strap from Apollo 12 is truly out of this world, having been embedded with lunar dust transferred from the astronauts’ hands while inside their lunar module (est. $25,000-35,000). A cast of Buzz Aldrin’s moon boot, number two of three made by Chicago artist Jo Mead, embodies both the spirit of 1960’s Pop Art and period’s fascination with the cosmos (est. $20,000-30,000). Equally striking is the Cosmonaut Survival Machete, of the same design carried by all Russian Soyuz flights to assist the cosmonaut crew after a remote unscheduled landing (est. $500-700).

The Space History sale will take place April 8 at Bonhams New York. The sale will preview at Bonhams April 4-8.
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