X-15 rocket engine brings $150,000 to OrcoExpo sale

A rocket engine that was used on the North American X-15 aircraft in the 1960s has sold at the 38th Annual OrcoExpo stamp show, which was held January 11-13 in Anaheim, California.

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

Despite this being an incredibly rare opportunity to own a historical rocket engine that is not likely to come to the market again, the lot sold for $150,000, just meeting its low estimate. It would have cost the US government a "few million dollars" from new, according to the auction house.

The X-15 was an experimental aircraft in the early 1960s, introduced as part of the US Air Force and NASA's X-plane series. It still holds the official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned aircraft, setting many altitude and speed records in its day.

Piloted by legendary figures such as Neil Armstrong, Scott Crossfield and Joseph H Engle, the X-15 was also the world's first operational spaceplane, after successfully reaching space in 1962/1963.

Fed by liquid oxygen and anhydrous ammonia, the engine itself was the first large man-rated rocket engine that could be throttled and deliver 57,000 pounds of thrust. It measures five feet in length and weighs almost 500 pounds.

Apollo 11 flown signed US flag
A good quality Armstrong autograph would almost certainly have pushed this flag past its high estimate

Also featuring was a US flag that was flown to the Moon on the Apollo 11 mission and signed by all three crew members. With the Neil Armstrong signature significantly faded, it sold for $20,000, again just meeting its low estimate.

According to the PFC40 Autograph Index, the value of Neil Armstrong's autograph has risen by 26% from 2011-2012. A good quality example on the US flag would almost certainly have pushed its value past the $25,000 high estimate.

We have some fantastic examples of Neil Armstrong's autograph for sale, as well as authentic strands of his hair and the controversial scissors and comb used by Neil Armstrong's barber.


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