1903-1969 From Flyer to Eagle
2018 SOLD for $ 275K including premium
On December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Flyer's four successful trials were the first flights of a heavier-than-air engine-powered machine controlled by a pilot on board. Reluctant to publish their feat to avoid attracting the attention of competitors, the Wright brothers are much concerned about the follow-up of their patent application.
Damaged at the end of the day, Flyer is not reusable. The Wright brothers keep its wreckage in crates until 1916 when the MIT offers to manage an exhibition. The hardware had been damaged in 1913 in a flood. Orville Wright changes the covering of the wings with a similar fabric.
To the great surprise of the heirs, the original Flyer's fabric is found in the estate of Orville Wright. It is then cut into small pieces that are offered for memory to pioneers in aeronautics. A 3.2 x 4.1 cm fragment that had belonged to Edwin E. Aldrin, father of the future astronaut, was sold for $ 32.5K including premium by Heritage on May 11, 2018.
Contrary to the extreme confidentiality practiced by the Wright brothers, the Apollo 11 mission and the Moon landing of its Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969 with Armstrong and Aldrin on board are viewed immediately throughout the world. This unprecedented technological feat is accompanied by many celebrations. As a tribute to the Wright brothers, pieces of Flyer's wing cloth and wooden propeller provided by the Air Force Museum had been carried down to the Moon surface in the LM.
Neil Armstong gets to keep for his personal collection some of these tiny witnesses of the dual achievement of Flyer and Eagle. Six lots are sold from his estate by Heritage in Dallas on November 1 : two propeller fragments 29 x 9 mm and 29 x 8 mm as lots 52284 and 52285 and four muslin cloth fragments as lots 52280 to 52283, the largest being 3.8 x 5 cm overall.
Here is the link to the lots that meet the 'Wright' text search in that sale. Please watch the video shared by Heritage.
RESULTS including premium :
from the propeller (2 lots) : SOLD for $ 275K each
from the wing : top lot SOLD for $ 175K
SOLD FOR: $275,000.00 | Apollo 11 Lunar Module Flown Piece of the Wright Flyer's Propeller, Flown as Part of the First Successful Powered Flight in History at Kitty Hawk in 1903 as well as the First Manned Lunar Landing in 1969, Directly From The Armstrong Family Collection™ pic.twitter.com/G1OlOOkJBT— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) November 2, 2018
SOLD FOR $162,500.00 | Apollo 11 Lunar Module Flown Section of the Wright Flyer's Wing Fabric, Position #6, Flown as Part of the First Successful Powered Controlled Flight in History at Kitty Hawk in 1903 as well as the First Manned Lunar Landing in 1969 #HeritageAuctions pic.twitter.com/XEoEZl1Q4C— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) November 2, 2018
1952-1954 The Dawn of Astronautics
2018 SOLD for $ 99K including premium
From 1952 to 1954 the weekly magazine Collier's devotes a series of eight articles to future space techniques under the title Man will conquer space soon.
These well-researched articles are coordinated by Cornelius Ryan. The best specialized writers contribute. Among them Heinz Haber is a scientific advisor to Walt Disney Productions with the mission to appeal young people with the peaceful use of atomic energy. After this publication Disney will become the best popularizer of the space conquest.
The most important contribution to Collier's articles is provided by Wernher von Braun who at the same time was entrusted by the US Army to develop a military rocket. It is remarkable that the detailed engineering concepts of von Braun have been published.
In an online sale that will end on April 19, RR Auction sells as lot 6060 a set of 26 autograph documents from the preparation of the first four contributions to Collier's by von Braun : drawings, schematics, diagrams, calculations and letters. Today's reader familiar with space activity will admire von Braun's premonitory vision of the rocket, space station, lunar landing and exploration, telemetry transmission and reception.
This set to which a copy of each of the four issues of the magazine has been joined is estimated $ 100K. Here is the link to the website of the auction house.
In his last article not involved in this lot, von Braun favorably examined the possibility of an inhabited spaceflight to the planet Mars.
1960 The Space Engine
2013 SOLD 178 K$ including premium
While the public was fascinated by Mercury, the NASA also operated another major program, the X-15, with some discretion but without seeking to maintain secrecy.
Launched by the U.S. Air Force with the participation of the U.S. Navy before being transferred to NASA in 1960, the X-15 rocket aircraft was highly important for appreciating the fluid mechanics of the upper atmosphere. The aircraft andits engine were reusable, opening in many aspects the way for the future NASA space shuttle.
The first autonomous flight of an X-15 took place in September 1959 with two XLR-11 engines. Then came the final XLR-99 engine, qualified in 1960. To put these events in the timeline, remember that the ballistic flight of Alan Shepard was made on 5 May 1961.
The performances of the X-15 were breathtaking. Mach 6 speed was reached in November 1961, and Joe Walker crossed the altitude of 100 km in 1963. An X-15 pilot named Neil Armstrong will later be the first man to walk on the Moon.
The XLR-99 engine was developed by Thiokol for the prime contractor of the project, North American Aviation. An example is estimated $ 150K, for sale on January 11 in Anaheim CA by Regency Superior.
Here is the link to the catalog. Its flight history is not indicated online, either because the information is confidential, or because it could be a spare model.
POST SALE DISCUSSION
This lot was sold at the price of its estimate, $ 150K before fees.
1965 SERVICE FOR THE MOON
Long before the general public is excited for the Apollo program, manufacturers are active. They must develop andqualify the equipment and check that they are compatible.
The Service Module is a large non-pressurized room containing the propulsion rocket engine and the helium tanksused for regulating the pressure of the propellant.
On May 24 in Secaucus NJ, Regency Superior sells an assembled sub-system consisting of the engine and two helium tanks. The dates of the pieces of equipment, 1964 and 1965, are prior to the assembly of the first Apollo spacecraft, made in 1966.
The Service Modules were jettisoned before landing and any remaining equipment cannot therefore have any flight history. According to the video, the lot for sale seems in very good condition. It was certainly used for ground testswithout severe environment, such as integration tests.
The rarity of this group representative of the great technological Apollo adventure justifies its estimate, $ 750K.
On January 11, the same auction house had sold $ 178K including premium a rocket engine for X-15, also with no history of flight.
1967 flight over aristarchus
The imaging technique is designed by Eastman Kodak. Two lenses of focal length 610 and 90 mm converge to a 70 mm silver film processed and scanned in the orbiter. The five missions overall sent to the Earth by analog video 2180 detailed images plus 882 images covering altogether the entire surface of the Moon.
The most shining point of the Moon, observed for the first time in 1645, is the crater Aristarchus. It was created by the oblique impact of a meteorite. It is 40 km in diameter with 2 km highest altitude above the surroundings and a maximum depth of 3.7 km. Its high albedo is due to the fact that its origin is not exceeding 450 million years so that its erosion is still limited. Radioactive phenomena remain.
The high resolution coverage of Aristarchus was carried out in four tele-panoramic images by Lunar Orbiter V in August 1967. The crater was too rugged and too atypical to attempt a manned mission. Only two photographic assemblies were made with an overall format 130 x 146 cm. One of them is kept at the George Eastman House in Rochester NY. The other one is estimated $ 100K for sale by Sotheby's in New York on July 20, lot 13.
The techniques of images have been dramatically improved. Since 2007 the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project is digitally converting the most interesting pictures recorded in the Lunar Orbiter magnetic tapes. The best of them including the very first image of the crescent Earth viewed from the Moon reach a spectacular sharpness after its digital processing.
1969 A Successful Moon Landing
The two astronauts on board the LM Eagle are highly experienced. Neil Armstrong had been an X-15 test pilot and his coolness saved the Gemini 8 mission after a loss of balance. Buzz Aldrin was a graduate of MIT with a PhD thesis on orbital rendezvous and had been an astronaut on Gemini 12.
Radio communication and telemetry enable the real time monitoring and the responsibility for the irreversible decisions by NASA's specialized teams in Houston.
The preparation was the subject of detailed procedures, still amended a few days before the launch. The documents concerning more specifically all the operations to be carried out aboard the Lunar Module are grouped in a notebook of 22 leaves 21 x 27 cm both sides, held by three rings. These operations include many controls of the operating status of the systems.
This document is used by Armstrong and Aldrin as a Timeline Book, in which they have check-marked in real time the completion of each instruction and added the necessary elements for piloting, including some identifications of positions.
The decisions, dictated by security considerations, are identified in an extremely simple way by a Go - No Go check, which becomes a Stay - No Stay for the specific decision to remain for walking on the moon or to leave without entering this much awaited phase. After this Stay, Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
A flight incident shows the importance of the human decision. An alarm occurred during the final descent. The flight director in Houston gave the order to disregard it after consulting his computer experts. Their reaction was extremely speedy but the opportunity to reach the initially planned landing site was nevertheless lost. To avoid landing on a rock, Armstrong took over control with the man-operated P66 program instead of the fully automatic P65 program recommended in priority by the book.
This user manual that secured and recorded the critical phase of the most prestigious of all space missions belonged to Aldrin until 2007. It is estimated $ 7M for sale by Christie's in New York on July 18, lot 11. In 2012 a Congress Act authorized astronauts to own and transfer flight manuals from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.
Please watch the video prepared by the auction house, as well as the video interview also by Christie's of Margaret Hamilton who was a software engineer on the Apollo project.
1971 Long Focal Length on the Moon
2016 SOLD for $ 450K including premium
Photography is scientifically indispensable. The autonomy of their new vehicle does not enable to come close to the geological features seen on the horizon. The two astronauts are equipped with Hasselblad cameras as in the previous missions.
The tele-lens Tele-Tessar 500mm f/8 designed and made by Carl Zeiss AG specifically for use on the Lunar Hasselblad is a new feature on Apollo 15, keenly desired by Commander Scott who managed to convince NASA of its advantage for the mission.
Scott intensely used this instrument on the Moon: he stated that he took 293 tele-photos during this mission. With 30 cm added to the length of the camera, this equipment was indeed cumbersome and a YouTube video shows Scott falling with his Hasselblad in hand.
All Hasselblad used on the Moon were left therein except the other Apollo 15 camera, for a technical reason. It was sold for € 660K including premium by WestLicht on March 22, 2014.
The Tele-Tessar was returned to Earth and was offered to Scott by NASA to commemorate the mission. It is estimated $ 400K for sale by RR Auction in the online sale that ends on April 21, lot 6501.
This lens is illustrated in the article shared by Gizmag. The Hasselblad camera on which it is photographed is of course not the original equipment that remained on the Moon and is not included in this lot.
1971 MOON TIME
The conquest of space was a great booster of technological development, and industrial companies were eager to position themselves in this market under the arbitration of NASA.
Regarding watches, the Moon race was won by Omega against Bulova, but this did not prevent some Bulova units to make the big trip.
During training before the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, David Scott decided to use a Bulova stopwatch. For the critical phase of the descent of the LM onto the Moon, the maneuver was to last 24 seconds with an accuracy of 0.3 seconds to optimize the impact of landing, and the commander considered that the Bulova dial offered an easier reading.
Scott had kept this piece, which he sells at Bonhams in New York on May 5. It is estimated $ 120K, lot 215.
The hand goes around the dial in 30 seconds with an accuracy of 0.1 second. A wide strip of duct tape masks the hand between 23 and 23.7 seconds. It was just time to stop the engine when the hand was visible again! It is not elegant,but certainly efficient. A secondary dial enables to read the time up to 30 minutes.
Bulova had not been ruled out of official material. Their Accutron tuning fork clocks equipped the on-board instruments. The Accutron was the first electronic time instrument: one transistor was inside for maintaining the oscillation!
1972 Apollo 17 Moon Used EVA Checklist
2021 SOLD for $ 740K by RR Auction
In December 1972 the last mission of the program, Apollo 17, was not quite like the others. The landing zone is a steep crater about 80 meters high in which the impact of the asteroid may have unveiled a volcanic phenomenon. Under pressure from the scientific community, Harrison Schmitt is the first and last professional geologist to walk on the moon.
This mission is also the most ambitious, with a stay of 75 hours on the Moon including three extra-vehicular activities (EVA) for a cumulative total of 22 hours, a cumulative journey of 36 km with the Lunar Roving Vehicle, a maximum distance of 7.6 km to the base and 9 stations to visit.
The man's presence on the lunar surface ends with a small ceremony in which Eugene Cernan, the mission commander, reads a message from President Nixon and adds his own wishes for peace and hope for all mankind, thus making a final echo to Armstrong's "giant leap".
EVAs are not free outings. They are specified by a spiral-bound notebook with plastic pages linked to the astronaut's forearm by a Velcro strip, identified as the EVA cuff checklist. This document plans the actions and their duration by the minute. Those of Apollo 17 include for the first time the maps of the sites to be explored.
Dave Scott's cuff checklist on Apollo 15 was sold for $ 365K by RR in November 2012. Charles Duke's EVA 2 and 3 cuff checklist on Apollo 16 was sold for $ 206K by Bonhams on July 16 2009.
Cernan had kept the three cuff checklists of his lunar mission. In an online auction ending on October 21, 2021, RR sells the checklist of his 3rd and final EVA, lot 3433 estimated $ 800K, consigned from his deceased estate. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
This piece consists of 25 double-sided 9 x 6.4 cm sheets smudged with moon dust and has retained its original black Velcro wristband. In the tradition of the Apollo staff, the back-up crew included two humorous drawings : two astronaut dogs say "Houston won't believe this" in front of a bone used as a flag. The last page which had been left blank was used by Cernan for a short autograph scribble preparing his message of peace.
(1970)-1972 From Switzerland to the Moon
2015 SOLD for $ 245K including premium
Speedmasters accompany the whole history of the Lunar conquest. An ad of that time for Omega indicates : Tested in Switzerland. Tested in Houston. Tested on the Moon.
On December 15 in New York, Christie's sells at lot 15 a stainless steel Omega Speedmaster caliber 861 manufactured in 1970 and used in 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission by the astronaut Ron Evans.
Evans was the commander of the Service Module that stationed in Lunar orbit awaiting the return of the Lunar Module. His watch was used for the control of time in an experiment to measure thermal variations within the Lunar ground in connection with a drilling performed by Cernan and Schmitt.
Back on Earth, Evans engraved in this watch an inscription attesting the participation of this instrument to the mission and to the heat experience, along with his signature.
The lot also includes a Velcro watch strap used by Evans during his extra-vehicular activity which was the very last EVA in lunar orbit of the Apollo program.
1972 We did not go to the Moon for Fun
2009 SOLD 206 K$ including premium
On July 16 in New York, Bonhams celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11 through an auction devoted to space exploration.
The progression within the missions of the Apollo project was the most exciting sequence of innovations in the history of technological developments. Here are these steps:
Apollo 7, October 1968, the first Apollo flight.
Apollo 8, December 1968, Lunar orbit flight.
Apollo 9, March 1969, Lunar Module test around the Earth.
Apollo 10, May 1969, Lunar Module test around the Moon.
Apollo 11, July 1969 Moon landing and walk on the Moon.
These successes required a military organization and discipline. This is illustrated with the book of instructions used by Charles M. Duke in his extravehicular walks on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission in April 1972. All he had to do was indicated, including the instructions in the event of an accident in his spacesuit.
It is composed of 29 sheets of 9 cm square, printed on plastic and spiral bound. They were attached to the wrist of the suit by a Velcro strip 45 cm long. This book has been contaminated by Lunar dust when the astronaut turned the pages with his glove. This remarkable characteristic allows now to expect K $ 200.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Bonhams sale, such as those previously made by Heritage, creates a new market sector. Top lots and values of the objects are not stabilized.
The Apollo 16 checklist book did not meet its estimate. It was sold 170 K$ before fees (206 K$ premium included). In light of my comment above, I consider that it is both a very good auction result and a very good deal for the buyer.
1975 the docking of west and east
2017 Sold for $ 11.2k including premium
The conquest of space was for long the symbol of the Cold War, just like 20 years earlier the technological competition for the supremacy of racing cars was a showcase of the political rivalry between the Axis and the Allies.
The final outcome of this political competition is the victory of Apollo on the Moon. Soon afterward the US government takes the opportunity of a relative political appeasing with the Soviets to restrict the budgets of NASA.
Americans are now willing to operate space stations, on which the Soviets had taken the lead with the Salyut program. The last Saturn V and Saturn IB rockets are dedicated to the ephemeral Skylab station.
Space will now become a symbol of international cooperation. On May 24, 1972 in the United States and probably around the same date in the Soviet Union, the former rivals decide on a project of docking in space between inhabited American and Soviet spacecrafts.
This mission is successful. On 15 July 1975 the hatch opens between Apollo and Soyuz. The three US astronauts and the two Russian cosmonauts are now one single team.
The event is recorded in a bilingual certificate in Russian and English signed in orbit in four copies by the five Spationauts. Nicknamed the Space Magna Carta, this document promotes the use of manned space flight in the joint interest of people from everywhere.
1994-1998 The Hypersonic Propulsion
2014 SOLD for 38 K£ including premium
The scramjet technology of hypersonic flight has been started by the Soviets as the Kholod. The cryogenic liquid hydrogen engine placed on the head of the missile is fired during approximately one minute after the system reaches a supersonic speed. This effect propels the non maneuverable vehicle to an altitude of 35 km with a top speed in excess of Mach 6.
The first successful test of the Kholod was made in November 1991. The fall of the USSR in December of the same year did not stop the project but allowed the French engineers of ONERA to participate. The second successful test is executed in November 1992.
NASA participates from 1994. Two trials fail, although the missile reaches Mach 5.8 and 6.2 respectively. The last launch, on February 12, 1998, is a great success. The Kholod reaches Mach 6.4 and an altitude of 27 km after a firing of 77 seconds. In 2001, the USA develop the X-43 project which is a logical continuation of the Kholod.
On September 8 in London, RM Auctions sells a Kholod, lot 101. This set which is not in flight configuration is announced as a joint system of Russian CIAM and of NASA. It was probably assembled in the final phase of the project as a full size model or as a spare, or for preparing a flight that has not been made.