Category Archives: Space Collecting

Sputnik-1 lab test model leads Bonhams Air & Space auction

Bonhams auction house will hold The Air and Space Sale on September 17th. A highlight of the collection is the SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957.

 Sputnik-1 test model
Sputnik-1 engineering test model from 1957.

From the press release:

The Dawn of the Space Age
Bonhams to Offer an Exceptionally Rare Vintage Test Model
of the Sputnik-1 Satellite

  • Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite [February 1957]
  • Formerly on loan and displayed at Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin, Germany

New York – On September 17, Bonhams will hold The Air and Space Sale, which is highlighted by an exceptionally rare vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite (estimate: $400,000-600,000). This model is one of only a few made to test ground electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electromagnetic interference (EMI). It was used by NII-885, a company under the Soviet Ministry of the Radio Industry, which, along with OKB-1, are responsible for the Sputnik-1 success. This example had been on loan and was displayed at Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin, Germany and was in the Collection of NII-885 director Dr. Mikhail Ryazansky.

Adam Stackhouse, Bonhams specialist, commented:

“We are honored to bring this world-changing piece of history to auction. There are only a handful of known working examples of the Sputnik-1 and this one comes with excellent provenance.”

About Sputnik-1
The Sputnik-1 artificial satellite was launched into Earth orbit by a R7 Semiorka rocket on October 4, 1957. The satellite had several scientific objectives: test the method of placing an artificial satellite in Earth orbit; provide information on the density of the upper atmosphere; test radio and optical methods of orbital tracking; determine the effects of radio propagation through the atmosphere; and check principles of pressurization used on satellites. Testing would have been rigorous as Sergei Korolov, the lead Soviet rocket engineer who headed the Sputnik-1 project, insisted that the transmission be received even by those with the cheapest of radios.

The successful launch of Sputnik-1 sent the United States population into a panic. In the midst of a cold war, the Soviets demonstrated that they had a rocket powerful enough to send a satellite into orbit.

“There was a sudden crisis of confidence in American technology, values, politics, and the military. Science, technology, and engineering were totally reworked and massively funded in the shadow of Sputnik. The Russian satellite essentially forced the United States to place a new national priority on research science, which led to the development of microelectronics…. Many essential technologies of modern life, including the Internet, owe their early development to the accelerated pace of applied research triggered by Sputnik”

(Dickson p.4). Dickson. Sputnik: The Shock of the Century. New York: Walker, [2001].

Additional highlights in the sale include:

  • CIAM/NASA HFL Kholod rocket, once the fastest vehicle to fly within the earth’s atmosphere (estimate: $80,000-120,000)
  • Lavochkin V-751 Surface-to-Air Missile, an experimental missile that was part of the family of missiles used in Lavochkin’s S-75 high-altitude air defense system (estimate: $50,000-70,000)
  • A hand-crafted lunar module contractor’s model marked with Grumman and NASA logos, and titled “Lunar Excursion Module” (estimate: $6,000-8,000)

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The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards, and Postmarks:
A Story of Puffery vs. the Pragmatic (Springer Praxis Books)

LEGO releases Apollo 11 Lunar Lander + An ISS model wins fan vote to become official LEGO kit

LEGO now offers an NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander kit in tribute to the 50th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon:

Celebrate man’s first moon landing with this LEGO® Creator Expert 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander building set—developed in cooperation with NASA to mark the 50th anniversary of a historical event that captivated the world. This collectible model features a highly detailed replica of Apollo 11’s Eagle lunar module, plus a depiction of the lunar surface, complete with crater, footprints and a U.S. flag. The descent stage comes with gold-colored landing pads and panels, opening camera and laser hatches, and a ladder, while the ascent stage has a detailed interior with room for 2 astronauts. Finished with an Apollo 11 Lunar Lander nameplate, this display model makes a great centerpiece for the home or office and provides a challenging and rewarding building experience full of nostalgia. Includes 2 astronaut minifigures with NASA decoration and golden helmets.

The 1000+ piece kit is aimed at advanced builders who want a display quality model and collectible. Here are some reviews:

A hobbyist-designed LEGO model of the International Space Station has also won a popular vote at LEGO IDEAS to become an official LEGO kit:

LEGO ISS Model
LEGO ISS model designed by Christoph Ruge. Credits: LEGO Ideas/Christoph Ruge

From collectSPACE:

The International Space Station has won the honor of becoming an official toy in the LEGO universe.

The orbiting outpost topped a fan vote of more than 22,000 LEGO enthusiasts to be the Danish toy company’s next real-life spacecraft to be made into a toy brick model. The space station received more than 45 percent of the votes cast — 10,438 votes to be exact — in the LEGO Ideas 10 Year Anniversary poll held May 20 through June 4 on the company’s website.

“An incredible achievement in [the] short fan vote period. It continues to show the huge desire for space and space exploration among the LEGO Ideas community,” wrote Hasan Jensen, a LEGO Ideas team member, in a blog post announcing the winner on Tuesday (June 4).

The International Space Station (ISS) model, as designed by Christoph Ruge of Germany, was up against three other set ideas that had qualified and then been passed over by the LEGO production review process. LEGO held the fan vote to mark the 10th anniversary of its LEGO Ideas website, which invites enthusiasts to propose new sets. Projects that reach 10,000 supporters are reviewed by LEGO for possible production and sale.

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LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V 21309 Outer Space Model Rocket
for Kids and Adults, Science Building Kit (1900 pieces)

Reality TV program “Space Dealers” explores the space memorabilia market

Netflix is now streaming the program Space Dealers, which follows three people who buy and sell space memorabilia and collectibles full time: ‘Space Dealers’ brings the space memorabilia market to reality TV | collectSPACE

Two years after it launched into a broadcast orbit around the world, “Space Dealers” has landed in the United States.

The reality TV show, which follows the exploits of three NASA-obsessed space memorabilia sellers, began streaming on Netflix in the U.S. and UK on Friday (Feb. 1). The six-part series, produced by WAGTV, first aired in 2017 in Australia and has in the interim been seen across Europe and Russia.

“For the right price, America’s leading space dealers will sell you anything and everything that the men and women with the ‘right stuff’ have used on their brave adventures in space,” writes the producers.

“Space Dealers” lightly parodies the real-life trade in NASA artifacts and Soviet-era space hardware. The rivalry between bowtie-sporting Larry, former NASA employee Torie and well-connected Cole sets up the drama, but it is the objects that they handle and the astronauts who they visit who are the stars of the show.

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Own a black hole simulated with carbon nanotubes

Here’s an opportunity to buy a “black hole” for display at home or office:  SINGULARITY – A simulated black hole by Singularity designs — Kickstarter

The display is “constructed from a carbon nanotube array which absorbs 99.9% of light in the visible spectrum”:

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Telescopes and Binoculars at Amazon

Sotheby’s space auction includes Moon rock from Soviet Luna 16 mission

[ Update: The Moon rocks sold near the top of the expected range of bids: Soviet robot-retrieved moon rocks sell for $855,000 at Sotheby’s | collectSPACE

Sotheby’s on Thursday (Nov. 29) auctioned the only known pieces of Earth’s natural satellite to be collected from the lunar surface and be legally sold for $855,000. The three tiny pebbles were among a small cache of moon material that was brought back by the former Soviet Union’s Luna 16 robotic probe in 1970.

The same moon rocks — which were originally presented to Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, the widow of Sergei Korolev, the “Chief Designer” of the Soviet space program — were sold by Sotheby’s in December 1993 for $442,500. With inflation, Thursday’s sale in New York City reflected an increase of about $87,500.

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Sotheby’s is holding a Space Exploration auction in New York today. The space collectibles and memorabilia items on sale include actual material obtained from the Moon’s surface:

The top lot in the sale was originally sold in the 1993 Russian Space History Sale here at Sotheby’s – a sample of lunar rocks returned to Earth by the Russian Luna-16 unmanned mission. It was the first time a piece of another world had ever been offered for sale to the public. It remains to this day, the only known legal sale of moon rocks to have ever occurred. We look forward to once again offering this tremendously rare and historic artifact to the public.  

“Three samples of lunar rock from Luna-16, the first automated sample retrieval from the moon, encased under glass within a 2 by 2 inch metal block positioned below an adjustable lens, the whole secured to a 6½ by 3½ inch metal base labeled “ЧАСТИЦЫ ГРУНТА ЛУНЫ-16” [SOIL PARTICLES FROM LUNA-16]. Central fragment consisting of basalt with feldspar crystals visible, adjoining larger fragments consisting of finely structured vesicular agglutinates, showing glass coatings caused by age-old meteorite impact.” – Sotheby’s
In addition there is

a wide variety of material from both the American & Soviet space programs — from lunar & space photography, original artwork by artists such as Chesley Bonestell and Alan Bean, flown mission artefacts and hardware, items from the personal collections of astronauts, autographed items, maps & charts, signed books, models, spacesuits, and much more, with material suited for both new and seasoned collectors.

“A complete Gemini spacesuit with helmet, gloves made for Pete Conrad, and boots made for Frank Borman, 1963-65…G-2C-4 full high altitude pressure suit, including inner pressure suit and outer cover layer, complete with GH-2C-7 helmet, GG-2C-16 gloves made to fit Pete Conrad, and GB-5C-9 boots made to fit Frank Borman, all manufactured by the David Clark Company for NASAS between 1963-1965.” – Sotheby’s
A Nice Place to Visit” – acrylic painting by Alan Bean, an Apollo astronaut who walked on the Moon and a talented artist.
See also

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