NEW YORK, NY.- Sothebys
will present Geek Week: an inaugural presentation of sales and events during which the auction house will offer over 400 lots dedicated to space exploration and the history of science and technology. Exhibitions will open to the public in New York City on Sunday, 25 November.
On 29 November, just a month before the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8 the first mission to orbit the moon Sothebys will hold their second-annual Space Exploration sale, which in turn follows the groundbreaking Russian Space History sales in 1993 and 1996. The auction features a wide variety of material from both the American and Soviet space programs from flown mission artefacts and hardware, lunar and space photography, original artwork by artists such as Chesley Bonestell and Alan Bean, items from the personal collections of astronauts, autographed items, maps and charts, signed books, models, spacesuits, and more.
SOVIET SPACE PROGRAM
The Space Exploration sale is led by the only known lunar samples with clear and documented provenance to be available for private ownership: Three Moon Rocks returned to earth from the unmanned Soviet Luna-16 Mission in 1970, which were ceremonially presented to Mme. Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, widow of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, the former Chief Designer and director of the Soviet space program. The present lunar samples have remained in the same private American collection since Sothebys iconic Russian Space History auction in 1993, when they sold for $442,500 marking the first time that a piece of another world had ever been offered for sale to the public. Estimated to sell at the time for $30/50,000, the present samples, which are encased under glass below an adjustable lens and labeled ЧАСТИЦЫ ГРУНТА ЛУНЫ-16 [SOIL PARTICLES FROM LUNA-16], will be offered with an estimate of $700,000/1 million.
In June of 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space, and the first woman in orbit. Selected to be the pilot of the Soviet Vostok-6 mission because of her extensive experience as a parachutist, Tereshkova remained in space for nearly three days, orbiting the Earth 48 times. Mounted on the wall of the Vostok-6 capsule was a green-painted aluminum voice-recorder that recorded all of her communications with Earth, as well as her spoken thoughts.
The voice-recorder reveals that her mission was far from easy or enjoyable as she suffered illness and disorientation. Also documented are her conversations with Nikita Khrushchev, Yuri Gagarin and the revelation that Korolev ordered her to stop her experiments and return to Earth. The voice-recorder will be offered with audio files on both cassette tapes and DVD, with an estimate of estimate of $30/40,000.
Designed with a completely rigid metal reinforced torso with flexible arms, Orlan spacesuits were the primary suits used for spacewalks at Soviet space stations. Manufactured by NPP Zvezda circa 2009, the present model is an Orlan-M (Seat Eagle) EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) Spacesuit the fourth iteration of the Orlan suit, which was used at the MIR and the International Space Stations from 1997 to 2009 (estimate $30/40,000). The suit is complete with a thermal micrometeoroid protection layer, cooling under garment, backpack life support system, and integral helmet with both clear and protective sun visors.
On offer in the sale is an exceptionally rare full Gemini Spacesuit the only known complete American spacesuit to come to market (estimate $100/150,000).
Project Gemini was critical to the mission of landing a man on the moon, with US astronauts logging nearly 1,000 hours of spaceflight during the course of the program. Made by the David Clark Company, Gemini spacesuits were built specifically for conducting spacewalks and with the ability to withstand living in cramped quarters for extended periods of time. The present suit is a Gemini G2-C the earliest of the white space suits to be developed and an important precursor to the iconic A7L suit used by the Apollo astronauts to walk on the moon.
The gloves were made for Pete Conrad, who commanded the Gemini 11 mission during which he made the first ever direct-ascent rendezvous with another space vehicle already in orbit. Conrad later commanded Apollo 12, during which he became the 3rd man to land on the moon. The boots were made for Frank Borman, who set a 14-day spaceflight endurance record with Gemini 7 and later commanded Apollo 8, becoming one of the first men to ever orbit the moon. The main body of the suit was made for one of the 5 Air Jumpers, Air Force Chief Warrant Officer Mitchell Kanowski. In testing the Gemini emergency launch escape system, Kanowski exited a NASA training aircraft at high altitude wearing the suit to test the survivability of the Gemini Astronauts if the system was needed in the event of a failure of the launch vehicle at takeoff.
Three significant lots, carried and used on the Apollo 11 lunar mission are featured, and were all originally in the collection of Buzz Aldrin. A Flight Plan Sheet describing the activities by Armstrong and Aldrin just 75 minutes after they landed on the lunar surface (estimate $30/50,000); a Lunar Surface Checklist Sheet (right) containing some of the final steps Armstrong and Aldrin completed to enable them to walk on the moon (estimate $50/80,000); and a Flight Plan Sheet, described by Aldrin as "one of Neil Armstrong's most extensive set of notes made in the entire flight plan" (estimate $40/60,000).
Included aboard the 1971 Apollo 14 mission was the King James Bible on microform the first Bible carried to the surface of the moon (estimate $30/40,000). Efforts to take the Bible to the moon were led by the Apollo Prayer League, which was established in 1967 following the tragic and deadly Apollo 1 mission with the primary purpose of praying for the safety of the astronauts. Given NASAs weight restrictions, rather than a large heavy codex, the Apollo Prayer League adopted the use of a new microform technology known as PCMI, which was able to reproduce an entire King James version of the Bible on microfilm. Carried by Apollo 14 pilot Edgar D. Mitchell, the microform bible reached the Fra Mauro Highlands of the moon on February 5, 1971 after two failed attempts on Apollo 12 and 13.
ARTISTIC REPRESENTATIONS OF SPACE
From photography to original paintings, the sale features a wide variety of artistic representations of space. There is an oil study for Norman Rockwells illustration The Final Impossibility: Mans Tracks on the Moon, which was featured in the 30 December, 1969 edition of Look Magazine (estimate $50/60,000), as well as paintings by Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon. Beans A Nice Place to Visit is the very first painting of the moon to be done by someone who was actually there and one of the earliest known surviving paintings by him (estimate $20/30,000).
At nearly 8-feet wide, there is an oversized rendering of the first photograph of the Earth from deep space Mans First Look at the Earth from the Moon, which was taken by Lunar Orbiter I on August 23, 1966 (estimate $25/35,000). Taken from a vantage point of 730 miles above the far side, the photograph had a profound impact and was the first in a series of NASA produced images that would create an important shift in how humankind imagined their place in the universe.