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.”
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, .
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)