Complete NASA Gemini spacesuit is for sale at Profiles In History auction

Dorothy's ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz... The original 'Cowardly Lion' costume... Bela Lugosi's Dracula Cape... A vintage Cleopatra poster... Robin William's Mork costume from the '70s sitcom Mork & Mindy...

This inventory might read like a particularly demanding collector's Christmas wish list. But these are in fact just a few of the rare memorabilia items appearing in Profiles In History's upcoming Icons of Hollywood Auction on December 15 and 16.


The rare complete NASA Gemini
program G-2C spacesuit

The sale is remarkable for many reasons - not least for its inclusion of a complete NASA Gemini program G-2C spacesuit. While the suit doesn't really fit in with the sale's "Icons of Hollywood" remit, it will undoubtedly entice collectors with a passion for space memorabilia.

Gemini 7 was the brief second phase of the US space program. This Gemini program G-2C spacesuit for sale includes the helmet, gloves and G-5C boots (which were the type of boots used on the Gemini 7 mission).

A label inside the suit reads: "SUIT HIGH ALTITUDE/FULL PRESSURE/G2C-4/SIZE KANOWSKI/DATE OF MFG. 8-2-63." On the outside is an original NASA red/white/blue extended vector patch on the left breast, which should excite bidders when they get close to it at the auction.

This particular suit was worn by Mitchell B. Kanowski. Chief Warrant Officer Kanowski was a specialist in high altitude parachute testing, and one of the five "Air Jumpers" who tested the 'emergency escape system' included in the Gemini capsules prior to the mission.

Kanowski is rightly billed in Profiles in History's auction lot notes as "one of NASA's unsung heroes". The brave daredevil parachute jumped numerous times to test the suit, the highest of which was from 33,000 feet in an uncontrolled freefall.

In terms of rareness, this suit was one of five with each being uniquely tailored for its wearer. Kanowski, his fellow four air jumpers and the Gemini astronauts travelled to the David C Clark Company in Massachusetts, US, for the tests.

Following its use in the Gemini test program, the suit was re-assembled by NASA to create a display for Reserve Officers' Training Corps military recruiters. Made of 100% actual Gemini parts that were used in test situations, the suit is virtually complete with all external parts intact as assembled by NASA.

Even more impressive are the suit's boots and gloves which, according to an accompanying note: "Were made for Astronaut Frank Borman, Command Pilot of the Gemini 7 Mission and the gloves were made for Astronaut Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr., Pilot of the Gemini 5 Mission..."

Conrad was subsequently Command Pilot of the Gemini 11 Mission and later the third person to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 12 mission.

"The condition of the spacesuit is very good overall with no visible signs of deterioration," say Profiles in History's lot notes. Its outer layer is "somewhat yellowed" by exposure to U/V rays at high altitude.

This suit was apparently restored by The Kansas Cosmosphere, "the world's leading space artefact restoration facility and the only facility designated by the Smithsonian Institution to restore flown U.S. spacesuits and craft," which further enhances its provenance.


As Profiles in History rightly points out, this suit is probably the only complete NASA Gemini spacesuit presently available to private collectors on the markets.

Past successful auctions of Gemini-related spacesuits include an example worn by Alan Shepard, later the fifth person to walk on the Moon. Although never actually flown in space - Shepard had to pull out of Gemini because of an inner-ear disease - the suit sold for $187,200 in April 2010.

Kanowski's suit is estimated at $150,000-250,000, and it will be fascinating to see how it does in Profiles in History's upcoming auction.

Watch this space for more news on the December 15-16 auction, which takes place in Beverly Hills, California.

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