An annual auction that celebrates space flight, from the earliest experiments to the present day, The Space History Sale is set to take place at [URL=http://www.bonhams.com/]Bonhams[/URL] in New York on Tuesday April 13. Featuring over 290 lots, the sale contains objects and ephemera from all of the most memorable NASA space flight programs including Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, and the Space Shuttle.
"We're proud to continue this annual New York auction of Space History," says Matthew Haley, Bonhams Specialist. "The auction features items that hark back to the first golden age of space exploration, when man sought to reach the moon, along with lots that celebrate what came before and after these monumental trips to the lunar surface."
With the Apollo missions capturing the public imagination like no other space program, objects from this series of voyages feature prominently in the sale. Of particular note are a number of truly remarkable Apollo lots that are set to entice international interest, from both private and institutional buyers.
Forty years to the day of the Bonhams auction, Apollo 13, the third lunar mission to the moon, suffered an oxygen tank explosion, and the crew famously radioed back the words, 'Houston, we've had a problem.' The emergency checklist list from that flight, used and marked after the explosion by the Apollo 13 crew on April 13, 1970, will be offered in the sale - it serves as a poignant reminder of the precarious state the three astronauts' lives were in.
During the emergency, the crew had to stabilize and re-align their spacecraft while saving enough power and oxygen to survive the long voyage back home. Their survival and safe return to earth is one of the most celebrated triumphs of American 20th century space flight (estimate: $20,000-30,000).
Directly consigned from Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, a mission patch flown to the moon is a leading lot in the auction and is signed by all three Apollo 11 astronauts (estimate: $40,000-60,000).
A diamond and gold pin given to Deke Slayton, NASA Director of Flight Crew Operations, is an extraordinary artifact whose history spans the Apollo program, from the tragic lows to the triumphant highs. Presented to Slayton by the widows of the Apollo 1 astronauts who died in the flash fire at the Cape Canaveral launchpad in 1967, it had originally been planned as a gift to Slayton from the Apollo 1 astronauts themselves. After receiving the pin, Deke lent it to Neil Armstrong, who took it to the lunar surface on Apollo 11 (estimate: $80,000-120,000).
Another notable Apollo 11 lot is a flight plan sheet signed and inscribed by Neil Armstrong, 'One small step for a man -- one giant leap for mankind'. Given to John McLeaish, NASA press officer, by Neil Armstrong while both were in quarantine after the trip, this is particularly unusual as Armstrong has said he never wrote this phrase for anyone, and no other example has ever come to auction (estimate: $60,000-80,000).