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Press Release - May 13, 2015
Celebrating NASA’s ‘most successful failure’: Apollo 13 artifacts lead Space auction, 45 years after missionMay 22, 2015 at Heritage Auctions; Apollo 13 Lunar Module flown parts, Apollo 13 flown American flag among the offerings
Could it really be 45 years ago? It was April 17, 1970, when the world was finally able to breathe a collective sigh of relief: Apollo 13, the seventh manned Apollo mission – and the intended third moon landing — had launched on April 11— Two days later, on April 13, the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the Service Module. For the crew, Commander James Lovell, Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise, the mission had become, simply, about survival.
"It truly was America's greatest, most successful failure," said Michael Riley, Senior Historian and Cataloger at Heritage Auctions. "Think about that. No lifeguard, no tow truck, no calling for a pick-up. The crew had only their own incredible tenacity, never-say-die attitude and one amazing Lunar Module to get them back to earth, hundreds of thousands of miles away. That's exactly what they did."
Top among the offerings is a grouping of Apollo 13 material in the form of a flown Coiled LM Utility Light Cord, Netting, and Beta Mission Insignia (estimate: $20,000+), mounted on a plaque as presented by Haise to Lunar Module maker Grumman's George M. Skurla, with an engraved plate in which Haise basically thanks Skurla for saving the life of the crew with his incredible spacecraft.
"My personal thanks for your leadership of the Grumman KSC Team that launched a better than perfect LM-7. Aquarius," writes Haise, "serving as a lifeboat on the Apollo 13 aborted lunar mission, saved the crew even though pressed beyond design specs."
Other highlights from the mission include: an Apollo 13 Flown Silver Robbins Medallion, Serial Number 156, originally from the Personal Collection of Mission Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert (estimate: $7,000+) — just one of a number of Swigert-owned lots in the auction, sale including an Apollo 11 Robbins Medal — and an Apollo 13 Flown American Flag on Crew-Signed Certificate (estimate: $5,000+), originally from the Personal Collection of Mission Commander James Lovell, also signed by Fred Haise.
Also being offered is the Apollo 13 and 14 flown Lunar Bible number 14-9, one of only 12 rare and highly sought-after complete 1,245 page Microform Bibles created for these Apollo missions and flight-certified by Apollo 14 moonwalker Edgar Mitchell. Appropriately, it contains the account of God's creation of the Moon in Genesis 1:16, and was printed in miniature out of necessity, given the size and weight constraints for flight to the lunar surface. Beautifully presented in a 22K gold reliquary, it is expected to bring $75,000+.
Little in the auction is more evocative of the incredible journey than
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
Apollo Moon Missions — Prototype of the J. A. Maurer 16mm Data Acquisition Camera with Archive of Related Photos: An early prototype of the legendary "DAC" as carried on Gemini and both the Lunar Module and Command Module of all the Apollo lunar missions. Estimate: $8,000+.
Skylab II (SL-3) Flown and Worn Spacesuit Flag, Mission Insignia, NASA Logo, and Nametag in Framed Display Directly from Jack Lousma's Personal Collection: These were on the spacesuit Lousma wore during launch, de-orbit and throughout both spacewalks, totaling 11+ hours, on the Skylab II mission, which covered more than 24 million miles. After the flight, as per custom, they were removed from his spacesuit and given to him. An incredible piece of history, just as NASA presented it to Colonel Lousma after the mission. Estimate: $9,000+.
Skylab II (SL-3) Flown Command Module Rotational Controller Handle Directly from the Personal Collection of Mission Pilot Jack Lousma: This was mounted in CSM-117 and used for manual control of the spacecraft across any of the three axes — pitch, roll, and yaw. It was removed after the successful mission and presented to Lousma. An extremely rare and desirable piece of flown Skylab hardware, which is seldom offered. Estimate: $8,000+.
Apollo 14 Lunar Module Flown American Flag, directly from the Personal Collection of Mission Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell: A 6" x 4" cloth U.S. flag that was carried aboard the Lunar Module Antares all the way to the surface of the moon on February 5, 1971, where it remained for more than 33 hours. Apollo 14 launched on January 31, 1971, with crewmembers Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Ed Mitchell aboard. It was the third successful lunar landing mission, gathering approximately 100 pounds of moon rocks and performing various surface experiments (including how far a golf ball could be driven on the moon). They returned to Earth on February 9, 1971. Estimate: $24,000+.
Mercury Seven Astronauts: Photo Signed by All: A 10" x 8" sepia-toned photo picturing the first seven astronauts chosen by NASA for their Man in Space project. This photo, showing the astronauts inspecting a Mercury Atlas model, was one of a series of photos taken April 30, 1959, at Langley Research Center. All seven of these brave men, who laid the groundwork for America's space program, have signed on the wide lower margin with early forms of their signatures: Alan B Shepard Jr., Walter M. Schirra Jr., John H. Glenn, Jr., Virgil I. Grissom, M. Scott Carpenter, Donald K. Slayton, and Leroy G. Cooper, Jr. Estimate: $5,000+.
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