Category Archives: History

Dave Scott’s watch worn on the Moon sells for $1,625,000

I posted here earlier that the watch worn by astronaut Dave Scott on the lunar surface was up for auction. The auction resulted in a record setting price for an astronaut memorabilia item: RR Auction: Past Auction Item – Item 9001 – Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Chronograph –

Minimum Bid: $50,000.00
Sold Price: $1,625,000.00


Robert Pearlman says the buyer’s identity was not revealed: Astronaut’s watch worn on the moon sells for record $1.6 million – collectSPACE

The Bulova timepiece, which Apollo 15 commander David Scott wore during NASA’s fourth successful lunar landing mission in 1971, was sold by RR Auction of Boston for an astronomical $1,625,000 to businessman from Florida who wished to remain anonymous. The sale, which opened at $50,000 online on Oct. 15, ended Thursday evening during a live auction where the winner and his competing bidders participated by phone.

Scott, who also called in, listened as his very-well-traveled watch soared in a span of just five minutes from $475,000 to the hammer of $1.3 million (the $1.625 million includes the buyer’s premium charged by the auction house).

This substantially beats the previous record for an astronaut item sale:

The previous record was for a cuff checklist used by Charles Conrad, the third man to walk on the moon, which reportedly sold for $1.3 million to a private buyer in 2001.

Only Russian spacecraft have gotten higher prices in auctions of Moon Race era items.

Pearlman points to another Apollo timepiece that will be going up for auction later this year: Omega Speedmaster 50 – Christie’s.

However, this watch, owned by Ron Evans of the Apollo 17 mission, stayed in orbit in the command module and did not go down to the lunar surface.


Here is a statement from RR Auctions about this auction:

Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 watch sold for $1.6M at auction
Only privately owned watch worn on the Moon

BOSTON, MA – (October, 23 15) Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 lunar surface-worn chronograph watch sold for $1,625,000 according to Boston-based RR Auction.

Of the dozen men that have stepped foot on the moon, all wore the standard Omega Speedmasters. Officially issued by NASA, those Omegas are acknowledged as government property; many, including Dave Scott’s used during his first two moonwalks, are housed in institutions.

This leaves Commander Scott’s Bulova Chronograph as the singular lunar surface-worn watch in private hands.

After the second moonwalk, Scott noticed that the crystal of his Omega had popped off when he returned to the cabin, therefore he needed to call upon his own personal backup watch, the Bulova watch.

The Bulova Wrist Chronograph was worn during his third and final moonwalk of the mission.  As Commander Scott stepped onto the moon for his final lunar excursion, he wore this watch. When he saluted the American flag against the background of the majestic expanse of Hadley Delta, this watch adorned his left wrist.

“Among the decisions I made, the monitoring of time was perhaps most important,” Commander Dave Scott stated in a detailed five-page letter that accompanied the sale.

Apollo 15’s third lunar excursion—lasting 4 hours, 49 minutes, 50 seconds—was perhaps the most reliant on time expenditures, as Dave Scott and Jim Irwin conscientiously balanced their resources before departure, and eventual journey home. The watch, exhibits significant wear from exposure while on the Moon, and from splashdown and recovery.

“We are extremely pleased with the results and honored to have been able to offer such an historically important timepiece—the only American-made watch that was worn on the surface of the Moon,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

Highlights from the sale include, but are not limited by:

  • Gordon Cooper’s Mercury 9 Flight Plan Roller, sold for $89,775.
  • Apollo 16 Flown Cover, sold for $76,772.
  • Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 Lunar Surface-Used Rover map, sold for $37,485.
  • Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 ‘Type 2’ Flown Cover, sold for $36,111.

Online bidding for The Space and Aviation Autograph from RR Auction began on October 15 and concluded on October 22. At 7:00 pm ET, a single lot live auction of Dave Scott’s watch took place at RR Auction’s Boston Gallery. More details, including results can be found online at

Music video: ‘Valentina’ by Public Service Broadcasting

I’ve previously posted a couple of space inspired music videos from Public Service Broadcasting. The songs came from their The Race For Space concept album. Below is a video for another song on the album. It is titled Valentina, inspired by Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to go into space. The music is beautiful and the scenes of her before, during, and after the flight present a captivating look at the Soviet Union and its space program of the early 1960s:


Space arts: Michael Kagan + Ed Belbruno

I mentioned Michael Kagan here a couple of years when his astronaut painting won the Best Art Vinyl 2013 top prize. The BBC reports about a space mural he created for a company in California: The Moon landings like you’ve never seen them before – BBC

The vast, life-size picture covers the entire wall of a room in the former Hughes Aircraft factory where America’s first lunar landers – the Surveyor spacecraft – were constructed. These mid-60s missions were sent ahead as robotic scouts to explore the Moon before the first crews arrived.

Hughes vacated the site 20 years ago and the Surveyor factory floor has been recently occupied by tech start-up RadPad who were attracted by the building’s space history and wanted a spectacular centrepiece for their new offices.

See a time-lapse video of his painting of the mural in the BBC article.


Mankind” by Michael Kagan, 2014


I’ve also posted here about artist, mathematician, and orbital mechanic extraordinaire Ed Belbruno. He will be having a show in New York City on October 22: Presents: The Art of Ed Belbruno.

On Oct. 22, meet Princeton University artist and mathematician — and columnist — Ed Belbruno in a public showing of his art at Café Minerva in Manhattan. Join to celebrate how Belbruno’s art unlocks discoveries in space exploration, and experience the beauty of the universe in a whole new way.

Here’s an interview with Belbruno from 2011:


Watch worn by astronaut Dave Scott on the lunar surface up for auction

The watch worn by astronaut Dave Scott while on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 15 mission is up for auction: Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Chronograph.


Here’s a statement from RR Auction about the watch:

Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 Chronograph Watch to be auctioned
Only privately owned watch worn on the Moon— set for auction on October 22

BOSTON, MA – (October, 1 15) Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 lunar surface-worn chronograph watch will be auctioned Boston-based RR Auction.

Of the select dozen men that have stepped foot on the Moon, all have worn the standard Omega chronographs. Officially issued by NASA, they are acknowledged as government property, and many, including Dave Scott’s watch used during his first two moonwalks are housed in institutions, a distinction that leaves Commander Scott’s Bulova Chronograph, worn during his third and final moonwalk of the mission— as the only lunar surface watch in private hands.

Apollo15_watch1The watch is visible here on Scott’s left hand.

The Bulova Wrist Chronograph, exhibits significant wear from exposure while on the Moon, and from splashdown and recovery.

“Among the decisions I made, the monitoring of time was perhaps most important,” Commander Dave Scott stated in a detailed five-page letter of authenticity confirming its background story and mission use.Colonel David R. Scott—Gemini 8 Pilot, Apollo 9 CMP, Apollo 15 CDR—amassed a combined 546 hours in space, was the seventh man to walk on the Moon and the first astronaut to operate the Lunar Rover on the Moon’s surface.

“This may be a once in a lifetime chance to own a watch that was worn on the surface of the Moon,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction. “In 2014, we auctioned Dave Scott’s hand controller – used to land on the moon for $610,000, and I expect that the watch will sell for much more, somewhere between $750,000 – $1,000,000.”

The Space and Aviation Autograph and Artifact Auction by RR Auction will run from October 15 through October 22.


Online bidding for the Dave Scott’s Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Chronograph will be available until 6:00 pm ET on October 22. At 7:00 pm ET, the live auction of this lot will begin in our Boston Gallery. Only phone bids or in-person bids will be accepted during the live auction.

For information, visit the RR Auction web site at


More images in the Bulova chronograph Apoll0 15 image gallery.

New paper says Canadian first to present scientific principles for rockets and space travel

Robert Godwin has been researching the life of Canadian William Leitch (1814-1864) and found that Leitch wrote a book published in 1862 that described many of the principles of rocketry and spaceflight decades before the space pioneers Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Robert H. Goddard wrote about rockets and space travel:  Rocket Spaceflight Accurately Described by Scottish-Canadian Scientist in 1861 – the Commercial Space Blog.

Here is a press release from Godwin:

Rocket spaceflight was proposed over three decades earlier than
previously thought; in the time of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Dickens

Burlington, Canada – October 4, 2015 – In a paper published today entitled The First Scientific Concept of Rockets for Space Travel* author and space historian Robert Godwin has proven that a Scottish-Canadian teacher applied scientific principles to accurately describe the rocket as the best device for travelling in space in 1861. More than three decades earlier than previously believed.

Robert Godwin who is an author and editor of dozens of books on spaceflight released his findings about a Presbyterian minister named William Leitch, born in Scotland in 1814. Godwin asserts that Leitch was the first trained scientist to have correctly applied modern scientific principles to space flight in an essay which he wrote in the summer of 1861 called A Journey Through Space. It was published in a journal in Edinburgh that year before being included in Leitch’s 1862 book God’s Glory in the Heavens.

William+Leitch+ca+1861[1]William Leitch (ca. 1861). (Credit: The Space Library)

Previous histories of spaceflight have maintained that the first scientific concept for rocket-powered space travel was envisioned at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century by such men as the Russian, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, and the American, Robert Goddard. Both men claimed Jules Verne as their inspiration. But Godwin says William Leitch made his suggestion to use rockets four years before even Jules Verne’s famous “space gun”.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Leitch deserves a place of honour in the history of spaceflight,” said Godwin. “The fact that he was a scientist is the key to this story. He wasn’t just making a wild guess. Not only did he understand Newton’s law of action and reaction, he almost dismissively understood that a rocket would work more efficiently in the vacuum of space; a fact that still caused Goddard and others to be subjected to ridicule almost six decades later.

“Whereas Goddard and Tsiolkovsky got their first inspiration from the science fiction of Wells and Verne, Leitch seems to have been inspired by the advances in powerful telescopes, the newly spin-stabilised military projectiles being manufactured in London, and Isaac Newton,” Godwin claimed.

Leitch’s proposals seem to have fallen through the cracks of history because he died at a young age and the copyright to his writings would fall victim to the bankruptcy of his publisher in 1878.

“His suggestion to use rockets in space remained in print for over forty years, but his name had been stripped away from the work. The problem was compounded by the title of his book being changed at the last minute to remove all references to astronomy, which led to it languishing for 150 years in the theology section of libraries,”Godwin said. “But it was still in print when Goddard and Tsiolkovsky made their mark on the field.”

“Leitch comprehended everything from the catastrophic implications of cometary impacts to the special relationship between light and time. He was a genius. Long since forgotten,” Godwin said.

In Godwin’s paper he reveals that Leitch studied at the University of Glasgow in the same classroom as William Thomson, the legendary Lord Kelvin, and even assisted Kelvin in an experiment on electricity. In 1859 Leitch was appointed to the post of Principal of Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario. He died in Canada in 1864 and is buried near to Canada’s first Prime Minister, who he evidently knew.

“He was buried on October 4th of that year: a date which has a certain resonance for space historians,” Godwin said, in a reference to the launching of Sputnik in 1957, 93 years after Leitch’s death.

“I also wonder what he would have thought of Elon Musk being a graduate of Queens,” Godwin continued, referring to the CEO of SpaceX, the United States’ leading space company.

Having preached in a parish near St Andrews in Scotland, Leitch’s children became early golf enthusiasts. Leitch’s granddaughter was the legendary golfing champion Cecilia Leitch.

“William Leitch was an expert on ballistics and the effect of gravity on trajectories. It must have been in the DNA,” Godwin joked.


In a four page review of Godwin’s paper Mr. Frank H. Winter, former Curator of Rocketry of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., stated:

“We can no longer take it for granted that the consistently cited trio of founders of space flight theory—Tsiolkovsky, Goddard, and Oberth—were the only individuals who seriously thought and wrote about the rocket as the most viable means of achieving space flight… William Leitch is less well known than the first three, but he should now be included in the overall picture, especially since he pre-dated them.”


On studying Godwin’s findings David Baker, editor of the British Interplanetary Society’s Spaceflight Magazine in London England stated:

“Rob Godwin has conducted a valuable piece of outstanding research, revealing for the first time how an intellectual mind from the 19th century anticipated the Space Age and explained how rockets could lift mankind to the stars, long before anyone else had defined it, in simple, lucid and scientifically accurate terms. This work is a landmark addition to the history of rocketry and Godwin is to be complimented for having himself made another important contribution to the genre.”


In Houston Texas, Mr. Michael L. Ciancone, Chair of the American Astronautical Society History Committee, commented:

“This paper by Robert Godwin puts flesh to the bone of William Leitch, a 19th century scientist and theologian who published some thoughts on rocketry that represent one of the earliest known references to the use of rockets for spaceflight. These perspectives are valuable because the history of spaceflight is a tapestry of experiences that contains more than the threads representing the big names in rocketry.”


And in Toronto, Canada, Dr. Dafydd “Dave” Williams, retired Canadian astronaut (STS-90 and STS-118) and Former Director of the Space and Life Sciences Directorate, Johnson Space Centre commented:

“A very impressive piece of research…& very exciting to learn that these principles of spaceflight were postulated & articulated so far before aerodynamic flight, let alone spaceflight.”


* Godwin’s paper is to be published this week as part of the Space Week celebrations. It will be available on