The Top 10 most valuable pieces of Space Memorabilia

Space memorabilia collectibles signify mankind's bravery and scientific ingenuity unlike anything else. Even better, the future value appreciation of many items is practically assured.

And what's also great about space memorabilia from a money perspective is that most people don't realise the opportunities it presents as an investment...

Here, we look at the 10 most valuable items to pass over the auction block in recent times - and many more items to rival these will likely appear on the future open markets.

#10 A Russian cosmonaut's spacesuit - €43,749

This suit used by cosmonaut Dzhanibekov Aleksandrovich had been valued at €30,000-35,000.

It was designed specifically for landing and taking of, during which time pressure variations may be substantial, and the suit is fitted with a carefully engineering pressure gauge to deal with exactly this problem.

Perhaps due to its association with a cosmonaut who had completed several space flights, the suit intrigued bidders who pushed the price past its estimate, and it was taken home for €43,749.

EVA Space Suit flown

#9 Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-1) Commander John Young's Flown Flight Suit Patches - $56,762

STS-1 was a mission of firsts - the first US space flight since July 1975 (Apollo 17); the first flight of a reusable spacecraft; the first use of solid rocket fuels in a manned mission; and the first US manned space vehicle launched without an unmanned powered test flight.

Between April 12-14, 1981, its two crewmembers, Commander John W Young and Pilot Robert Crippen, took the new and amazingly complex Space Transportation System Shuttle Columbia through 37 orbits of the Earth - and not without encountering some serious problems along the way.

Young's four flown suit patches auctioned at Heritage in a stunning 22" x 22" framed display. They sold for a final price of $56,762.

Commander John Young Flow Flight Suit Patches

#8 An Apollo 14 Spacesuit nametag, worn on the Lunar Surface by Edgar Mitchell - $59,750.00

A nametag belonging to Dr Edgar Mitchell of Apollo 14 was a top lot in Heritage's space sale, earlier this year.

The piece, marked with his surname and with a signed endorsement on the back, is one of just nine extant nametags worn by an astronaut who has walked on the Moon.

Of the nine, those belonging to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are in the Smithsonian Museum. Meanwhile, Alan Bean shredded his for use in his unique paintings (which is why there are today nine tags instead of 12).

Apollo 14's Moonwalker Edgar Mitchell

#7 Apollo 16 Lunar Module Flown Crewman Optical Alignment Sight (COAS) $65,725.00

If you're wondering what a COAS is, put simply, it enabled mission commander John Young to safely maneuver and dock using minimal time and fuel.

Apollo 16 Lunar Module Flown Crewman Optical Alignment Sight (COAS) ($65,725)
Apollo 16's COAS computer ($65,725)

A "telescope" of sorts, it provided Young with a line-of-sight attitude reference image, enabling him to target a docking location from Apollo 16, up-to 150 feet away.

As with the Apollo Guidance Computer interface, this is yet another then-state of the art piece of technology in which the astronauts trusted their lives. This unique, eight-inch long device brought an incredible $62,725 at Heritage.

#6 A Rolex watch taken to the Moon aboard Apollo 17 - $131,450

The Rolex watch worn by Apollo 17 astronaut Ron Evans has sold for an incredible $131,450 at the Heritage Space Exploration Auction.

During the mission, Evans placed it in his Personal Preference Kit (PPK) which was taken to the Moon's surface by his crewmates, while Evans piloted the command module in orbit above.

The watch was on the Moon's surface for 72 hours during what would turn out to be man's last ever manned Moon expedition, to-date.

#5 Flown Apollo 11 Lunar Module landing sequence - $152,000

Probably the most important sheets from the most significant flight event during the Apollo 11 mission, listing events and entry commands to enable Lunar Module Eagle to descend from lunar orbit and touch down on the Moon's surface.

To the moon and back: Ron Evans's Rolex ($131k)
To the moon and back: Ron Evans's
Rolex ($131k)

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin followed these guidance computer programs closely as they descended into history and became the first humans to land on another celestial body - the moon.

"These are the most significant pages from the entire [mission] dictionary, and from my view point, some of the most important pages available to us during the entire flight," wrote Buzz Aldrin in his accompanying authentication letter.

#4 Arguably the most memorable words of the 20th century - "One small step for man..." - $152,000

An Apollo 11 flight plan inscribed with the words "One small step for a man—one giant leap for mankind" by Neil Armstrong himself was the star lot at Bonhams' Space History Sale, in April of this year.

The document from the detailed timeline section of the flight plan, covers the preparations for man's first step on another celestial body and the moment that legendary step was taken.

A truly one-of-a-kind piece of historic memorabilia form mankind's greatest 20th century achievement, the inscribed flight plan sold to a lucky collector for $152,000.


#3 The Falcon lunar module's Attitude Control joystick from Apollo 15 - £206,000

One of the most expensive pieces of space memorabilia is an actual piece of flight control equipment used to control Apollo 15's landing. It was sold at Bonhams in an 11 x 9½ by five inches wooden case.

The joystick was used to activate the four sets of four 100-pound Marquardt rocket engines (see item five on our list); working with the semi-automatic onboard computers' steering calculations and engine thrust-on commands.

On the Moon's surface inside Falcon for over 66 hours, this unique and critical device was a highlight at Bonhams successful July space sale, selling for over £200,000.


#2 Charles Duke Jr's Apollo 16 wrist-mounted checklist - $206,000

This wrist mounted checklist was one of the highlights at Bonham's massive space auction in 2009. It was used by Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke Jr during the second and third lunar surface explorations of the Apollo 16 mission.

Flown Apollo 16 EVA Cuff Checklist
Charles Duke's Flown Apollo 16 EVA
Cuff Checklist

The lo-tech metal bound booklet was strapped to the wrist of Duke's space suit and exposed to the lunar environment for 12 hours during the astronaut's exploration periods.

The booklet covers various procedures. such as climbing down to the lunar surface and placement positions for the rover lunar surface buggy - but it attracted extra attention for another unique feature...

One page features a hand drawn drooling space-suited astronaut melting away in the arms of a buxom nude woman. The astronaut says: "Happy Birthday Whatever Your Name Is."

The cheeky checklist eventually auctioned for $206,000, including buyer's premium.

#1 Mankind's first celestial measurements taken while on the Moon - $218,000

Man's First Celestial Measurements made while on the Moon
Man's First Celestial Measurements
made while on the Moon

The navigational chart used by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to determine their exact position on the lunar surface, just after their historic lunar landing, was one of the major sales at Bonham's New York Space Sale in July 2009.

One of the few flight devices returned from the lunar surface to be available on the market, the chart was a major auction highlight in a great year for space memorabilia, which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the momentous Apollo 11 moon landing.

The chart is signed by Buzz Aldrin, and its sale also included a typed and signed letter from the second man to set foot on the lunar surface.

"This star chart was the single most critical navigational device we used while on the Moon," wrote Aldrin.

It sold for an incredible $218,000, including buyer's premium. 

Click here for more space memorabilia currently for sale.

 

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