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Dog spacesuit among artist's Soviet space artifacts being auctioned

A rare Soviet pressure suit used to prepare dogs for spaceflight is among pop artist Andora's artifacts at auction. (Auctionata)
Sept. 2, 2014

– A German pop artist who once painted the side of a Russian rocket is selling his collection of Soviet space memorabilia, including pieces of his own space art and a "dog space suit."

Andreas Hoge, better known by his one-name pseudonym Andora, consigned more than 100 Russian space program artifacts and collectibles to the Berlin-based auction house Auctionata. The Sept. 13 sale will be held in Germany and online.

In 1992, Andora was commissioned to decorate a space-bound Proton booster while he participated in commercial cosmonaut training in Star City, Russia. It was during this time that he began amassing his space collection.

The sale includes several representations of the artwork Andora created for the 175-foot-tall (53-meter) multi-stage rocket, including a scale model of the launch vehicle and drafts of the designs that the artist hand-painted onto the Proton. The sale also features a part of the rocket itself, a seal that was removed before flight.

Pop artist Andora's original draft designs for the Russian Proton rocket he was commissioned to paint in 1992. (Auctionata)

Andora's artwork for the "West in Space" Proton project is expected to sell for $4,000 to $5,250 (€3,000 to €4,000). The rocket's saved seal is estimated at just $315 (€240).

Many of the auction lots comprise cosmonaut autographs, commemorative stamps and medals, and collectible pins. The sale's highlights though, are artifacts from the Soviet manned — and canine precursor — space program.

"An extra special relic, and for me an absolute highlight, comes in the shape of a compression suit, like the one worn by the dog Laika, who in 1957 was the first living creature to be sent into orbit," Tasillo Römisch, a German space collector and Auctionata's curator for the sale, said in a statement.

The four-legged, brown lace-up full body suit is described as having been used in the training of the dogs Belka and Strelka during the 1960 mission Sputnik 5. Made by RSC Energia, the largest Russian manufacturer of spacecraft and space station components, it is said to be one of only a small number of "dog space suits" to have survived to this day.

The pooch-sized pressure suit is listed to sell for $10,500 (€8,000).

The Soviet space dogs paved the way for the flight of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and Andora's collection includes several artifacts related to the cosmonaut and his historic mission.

In addition to a bottle of cognac autographed by Gagarin and a 1963 porcelain bust of the spaceman, the auction includes a "small and inconspicuous piece" of Vostok 1, his space capsule. According to its description, a mission helper broke off a piece of the craft's retrorocket post-flight and had Gagarin sign it two days later.

A "small and inconspicuous piece" of a retro-rocket as taken off of Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 space capsule in 1961. (Auctionata)

The twisted metal fragment is estimated to sell for $7,900 (€6000). The autographed cognac bottle has a pre-auction appraisal of $3,150 (€2,400) and the bust is expected to bring in $790 (€600).

Although the sale is mostly Soviet space memorabilia, a few NASA artifacts are also offered, including a two-piece, light blue flight suit that was sized for Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham. Colloquially described by Auctionata as "pajamas," the inflight coveralls are of the style designed to be worn in space until the loss of the Apollo 1 crew to a fire on the launch pad resulted in all cotton clothing being replaced by fire-retardant glass-fiber cloth garments.

The jacket and pants are expected to sell for $525 (€400).

The Andora collection sale marks Auctionata's first space artifact auction. Preceding the sale, the artist himself will deliver a talk about the history behind items he is offering from Auctionata's Berlin showroom.

For more information or to bid on Andora's space artifacts, see the Auctionata website.

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Video credit: Auctionata