A signed photograph of America's first astronauts, known as the Mercury 7, is receiving strong bids in an online space auction, which closes on July 18.
Also referred to as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1, the would-be space flyers were originally due to be selected from an open competition organised by NASA. However, President Eisenhower insisted that all candidates be test pilots who met the strict criteria of having a bachelors degree, were under the age of 40, had 1,500 hours flying time under their belts and the qualification to fly jets. Not only this, due to the tight space inside, the winning candidates were to be no taller than 5 feet 11 inches, narrowing down the selection considerably.
After a gruelling selection process, the winning line-up was eventually decided in 1959: Alan Shepard, Gus Grisson, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper and Deke Slayton were to be the first Americans to venture beyond Earth's atmosphere. They were also soon to become national heroes, having been compared to pioneers such as Columbus and the Wright Brothers in national newspapers, and capturing the hearts of the adoring public in the process.
The photograph in the auction is a fantastic depiction of that original crew, posing with a miniature rocket. In very fine condition, the photograph features the desirable "formal" signatures of all seven members, and is currently selling at $1,433, with five days left to receive bids.
Also featuring is a signed photograph of Neil Armstong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, which has been made out to Cliff Charlesworth in thanks for his work as NASA flight director of their historic moon landing. Reading: "To Cliff Charlesworth - with our sincere appreciation for your friendship and your professional performance as our 'flight'", it is currently selling for $1,595.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has a highly desirable set of autographs from the Apollo 11 crew, which are featured on the cover of a LIFE magazine special issue. We also have this spectacular item currently on offer - one that collectors won't want to miss.
See our full collection of space memorabilia here.