North American X-15 rocket engine could bring $250,000


A rocket engine from the experimental aircraft North American X-15 is set to draw global attention at a January 11-13 auction in California.

The remarkable consignment is expected to sell for between $150,000-250,000. It would have cost the US government a "few million dollars" from new, according to the auction house.

North American X-15 Rocket Engine
The X-15 still holds the record for the fastest speed achieved by a manned aircraft

The North American X-15 was part of the US Air Force and NASA's X-plane series during the early 1960s. Breaking many altitude and speed records at the time, the aircraft still holds the official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned aircraft.

It was also the world's first operational spaceplane, after first reaching space in 1962/1963. Adding to its appeal even further are the legendary pilots who flew it, including Neil Armstrong, Scott Crossfield and Joseph H Engle.

The engine itself was the first large man-rated rocket engine that could be throttled and deliver 57,000 pounds of thrust. Fed by liquid oxygen and anhydrous ammonia, it measures 5 feet in length and weighs almost 500 pounds. It is believed to be the only example in private hands and may never come to the market again.

Apollo 11 flown signed US flag
Armstrong's autograph has shown an increase in value of 24.32% pa from 2000-2012, according to the PFC40 Autograph Index

Also selling is a US flag flown to the Moon by the Apollo 11 crew, which is attached to a colour certificate. Signed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, with an autopen signature from Michael Collins, it will be sold for $20,000- 25,000.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a wide range of space memorabilia for sale, including signed Apollo 11 photographs and a complete set of signed photographs from all 12 Moonwalkers.

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