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Christie's announces second space sale

April 14, 2001 — On May 9, Christie's East will auction more than 350 lots of space history artifacts carrying provenances such as Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan, Charles Duke, Charles Conrad, Gordon Cooper, Walter Schirra, Thomas Stafford and James Irwin.

The original account of mankind's first flight in space is among the sale's highlights: Yuri Gagarin's report of his mission aboard the Vostok spacecraft on April 12, 1961 (estimate $150,000 - 200,000).

The document is the original typescript by Gagarin and was signed by him on April 15, 1961. Gagarin discusses an array of topics such as his initial training, the effect of weightlessness on the body and the experience of the landing. At the end of the document he describes the emotion of seeing planet Earth from space, the sight of which he was the first of mankind to enjoy: "The Earth has a very beautiful blue halo... a smooth color transition from tender blue, to blue, to dark blue and purple, and then to the completely black color of the sky," Gagarin wrote in his report.

A star lot of the space sale is the set of four lunar dust covered emblems from the space suit worn by James Irwin during the Apollo 15 mission (estimate: $250,000 - 350,000).

On July 26, 1971, the crew of Apollo 15 was launched to the Moon. Irwin was one of two astronauts to make three separate lunar surface excursions during their 67-hour stay. The walks on the moon surface, an occasional fall on the steep slopes and the dust sprays kicked up by the lunar rover's wheels, covered the astronaut's suits in dust whereby the raised edges of the beta cloth emblems were very prone to retain the lunar dust particles.

Traditionally after the flight, the four beta cloth emblems — US flag, NASA emblem, nametag and mission tag — were taken off the spacesuit and were presented to the astronauts by the NASA Crew Systems Division of the Manned Spacecraft Center. The offered lot is the original presentation frame showing the four patches James Irwin received at his post-mission ceremony.

During the first Apollo flights, astronauts walked within the vicinity of the lunar module, but as the distances became longer, maps became a standard component of each mission. Apollo 16 carried 10 traverse charters that enabled the crew to travel 2.5 miles away using a lunar rover. One of those ten maps, covered with lunar dust and signed by astronaut Charles Duke will be offered as another highlight of the sale (estimate: $80,000-120,000).

Duke held this map in his hand, navigating, while John Young drove the lunar rover. Areas indicated on the map include "Red Rose", "Sunset" and "Eden Valley" and two roughly parallel traverse lines of driving routes cross the center of the map.

Further highlights include an early exhibition duplicate of Sputnik I (estimate: $100,000-150,000), a Gemini EVA space suit (estimate: $30,000-50,000), Neil Armstrong's A7L space suit cover (estimate: $15,000-20,000) and a flown Apollo 15 A8 [Aft 8] command module equipment stowage locker (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

The viewing of this sale will start on May 5, on the 40th anniversary of the first manned United States spaceflight by Mercury Astronaut Alan Shepard in 1961.

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