In 1969, the mission of Apollo 11 allowed for the first two humans to set foot on the moon. Just two years later, Apollo 15 was already the ninth manned mission and the fourth to the moon in U.S. space history. Now, more than 40 years after Apollo 15, the joystick used by Commander David R. Scott to control the Falcon Lunar Module is going up for auction, to be included with other artifacts from moon missions and exploration.
RR Auction, one of the world’s most recognized and reputable auction platforms for historic items, will host the auction. RR Auction is located in Boston, Massachusetts and holds auctions online, year round. The company has been in business for over 30 years, and is continuing to build their name by offering high-quality and authentic artifacts from the past.
The Apollo 15 joystick used by Commander Scott is officially referred to by RR Auction as the “Apollo 15 flown lunar module rotational hand controller,” and is one of very few physical spacecraft items used by the Apollo 15 crew that are in the auction. While the joystick was used to manually guide the spacecraft that Scott and his crewmates were in, another highly notable item is the Crewman Optical Alignment Sight, used on the mission for other essential actions such as star sightings, docking, rendezvousing, and horizon alignment.
Aside from the lunar module joystick, among more than 500 moon artifacts featured in the RR Auction include signed posters of the crew members, a lunar map that was flown for the mission, paintings by artist Ed Hengeveld, and a miniature model of Commander Scott in full spacesuit. The auction begins online on May 15, 2014, and will last for one week.
The most remarkable aspect of these items is the fact that many times, most raw materials from moon missions were just abandoned after use, forever leaving them to be space relics. Even when one or two pieces of spacecraft equipment are brought back to Earth, such as is the case with this upcoming auction, the interest, appreciation, and demand for these items reaches an astronomical height. Auction professionals are speculating that the bidding for Scott’s joystick alone could reach or surpass $300,000.
Among the Apollo mission auction subsets, the category boasting the largest collection of items is Apollo 11, the first manned mission on the moon, with at least 70 items. A signed and framed limited edition print of the first words spoken on the moon by Buzz Aldrin and Charlie Duke will start with a bid of $200. The Project Mercury-era hand controller given by Gordon Cooper to Gus Grissom, in part as a gift to Grissom after the loss of the Liberty Bell 7, is another important item, starting at $300. The Liberty Bell 7 was the spacecraft piloted by Grissom during Mercury-Redstone 4, the second manned U.S. spaceflight. Even though the Liberty Bell 7 sank in the Atlantic Ocean while returning to Earth, Grissom was safely retrieved.
Many movies have recreated and depicted the enthralling, edge-of-your-seat adventures that dozens of these astronauts had the chance to embark on just a few short decades ago. But such movies will pale in comparison to the opportunity to bid on these pieces of history themselves. With artifacts from the moon such as a lunar module joystick being auctioned, the winners of these icons will be able to include timeless statements of space progress in their collections for years to come.
By Brad Johnson