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.
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.
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.
** Administrator Bridenstine Joins Washington Post Discussion: The New Space Age
The Washington Post hosted “Transformers: Space” which featured prominent speakers in the fields of space science and policy. The New Space Age discussion included NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye and Dr. Heidi Hammel, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Planetary Society. These speakers discussed the most important issues on the country’s space agenda including the future of the International Space Station, America’s plans to return to the Moon, and the search for life in the cosmos.
** NASA Administrator Talks Training, Future Missions with Newest Astronaut Class
NASA’s newest class of astronaut trainees joined agency Administrator Jim Bridenstine Sept. 27 at NASA headquarters, to talk about their experiences in the training program, hopes for future missions, and more, in a live episode of “Watch This Space”.
Astronaut candidates Zena Cardman, Jasmin Moghbeli, Jonny Kim, Frank Rubio, Matthew Dominick, Warren Hoburg, Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, Raja Chari, Loral O’ Hara and Jessica Watkins were joined by Canadian Space Agency astronaut candidates Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons. The first U.S. astronauts, the “Original Seven,” were selected in 1959. Since then, NASA has selected 21 more groups of astronauts. This latest class, announced on June 7, 2017, includes a physician, biologist, geologist, military pilots and engineers.
Once their training is complete, they may be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including: performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by U.S. commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.
Ketchum spoke about his new book, To The Moon On A Slide Rule, and “early ICBM and rocket history, early space program, Surveyor missions, lunar surface, nuclear propulsion, NASA, SLS, Gateway and much more”.
This month marks 61 years since the launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. Here are three documentaries (of increasing length) about Sputnik and the opening of the Space Age:
The first Ariane V launch took place on June 4, 1996. Unfortunately, the rocket exploded soon after liftoff due to a software problem.
There was another total loss on the 14th launch and three partial failures (two in the 1990s and one last year) occurred when the satellites were put into the wrong orbits and had to use their own fuel to reach the target orbits. In general, though, the Ariane V became a very reliable launcher. Failures early in launch vehicle’s launch history are the norm as seen, for example, with the two SpaceX Falcon 9 explosions (one in flight and one during a pad test).
Scott Manley gives some background on the Ariane V: