Technology & Science

Space auction to sell 450 artifacts

Space buffs with hefty wallets can make one giant leap toward owning a piece of mankind's history exploring the cosmos next month, with the chance to buy any of 450 space-themed artifacts.

Space buffs with hefty wallets can make one giant leap toward owning a piece of mankind's history exploring the cosmos next month, with the chance to buy any of 450 space-themed artifacts.

The RR Auction house based in New Hampshire is selling select, rarely seen items, including the original mission control headset worn by NASA engineer Charlie Duke during the lunar landing of Apollo 11 more than 40 years ago.

Space-related items up for auction include the headset used to speak to the first man on the moon, Gus Grissom's good luck Roosevelt dime, and silver medals from each Apollo mission. ((RR Auction))

Bobby Livingston, vice-president of sales and marketing for the auction house, told CBC News the pieces would be regarded by space buffs as tangible representations of what he considers to be humanity's greatest engineering feat — the journey to the moon.

"You can trace human achievement through these things," he said. "Charlie Duke's headset is the one he was wearing in mission control when they said, 'The Eagle has landed.' That headset received first transmission from the surface of the moon, which is an incredible representation of that achievement."

The company's first Space Artifacts sale will run Jan. 13-20, but the items can be previewed at RR Auction's website.

Nearly every item has a direct provenance to it, Livingston said, adding that many objects came from the astronauts themselves or from staff at mission control. He expected total sales between $500,000 to $700,000.

Memorabilia playful, tragic

The items range from the playful — such as a Playboy photo smuggled aboard the Apollo 12 command module Yankee Clipper during its November 1969 voyage to the moon — to the tragic.

"We have the last cheques written by the Challenger crew, including Christa McAuliffe, two days before they launched and perished," Livingston said.

"Astronauts could buy one-of-a-kind souvenirs as gifts when they got back, and every member of the crew had written a cheque for $120 to this medal-making company in 1986," he explained. "These are representations of that tragedy and the hope that they all had."

A calendar photo of Playboy magazine's Miss August 1967, DeDe Lind, was stashed away in the Apollo 12 command module Yankee Clipper during its 1969 voyage to the moon. The item is also up for auction. ((RR Auction))

All seven crew members died in the disaster on Jan. 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated after launch. McAuliffe, a civilian, was chosen from thousands of applicants as part of a NASA program to teach in space.

Flight-flown items such as the small American flags carried by crews into space were collected from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, among others.

A Roosevelt dime belonging to Gus Grissom, one of the original NASA Mercury astronauts, will go up for auction. The dime was carried in Grissom's spacesuit as a good luck piece during the 1965 Gemini 3 mission.

Silver Robbins medals from each Apollo mission will also be available for purchase, with some of the medallions having gone to the moon and back.

"A lot of this stuff this stuff has been gathered for 40 years and a lot of it is getting back on the market for the first time in a long time," Livingston said.

"They're artifacts of our greatest achievements, engineering-wise. That's why people collect them."

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