Unique camera from NASA's moon missions sold at auction

March 23, 2014
A Hasselblad 500EL "Data Camera HEDC Nasa" Jim Irwin Lunar Module Pilot camera, dated from 1968, used on the moon during Apollo lunar programs is sold at an auction for 550,000 euros ($760,000) at the Westlicht Gallery in Vienna on March 21, 2014

The only camera to return from NASA's moon missions in 1969-1972 was sold at an auction in Vienna Saturday for 550,000 euros ($760,000), far outdoing its estimated price.

The boxy silver-coloured camera, which was sold to a telephone bidder, was initially valued at 150,000-200,000 euros.

The Hasselblad model was one of 14 cameras sent to the as part of NASA's Apollo 11-17 missions but was the only one to be brought back.

As a rule, the cameras—which weighed several kilogrammes (pounds) and could be attached to the front of a space suit—were abandoned to allow the astronauts to bring back moon rock, weight being a prime concern on the missions.

"It has on it... I don't think any other camera has that," Peter Coeln, owner of the Westlicht gallery which organised the auction, said of the rare piece.

The camera, which was being sold by a private collector, was used by astronaut Jim Irwin to take 299 pictures during the Apollo 15 mission in July-August 1971.

A small plate inside is engraved with the number 38, the same number that appears on Irwin's NASA snapshots.

Close to 600 objects were on sale on Saturday. The Westlicht gallery is the world's largest house for cameras and has overseen the sale of some of the most expensive photographic equipment in history, including a 1923 Leica prototype that sold for 2.16 million euros, a world record.

Explore further: Sole camera from NASA moon missions to be auctioned

Related Stories

Legal ivory auction breaks French price records

March 9, 2014

A French auction of legal ivory broke records on Saturday, with prices reaching up to 1,000 euros a kilogramme ($630 a pound), according to Alexander Debussy, associate director of auction house Cannes Encheres.

Apollo astronaut returns 'stolen' camera

October 31, 2011

In a follow-up to a recent Universe Today article, Apollo astronaut and sixth-man-on-the-moon Ed Mitchell has agreed to return a lunar Data Acquisition Camera (DAC) that he kept from the Apollo 14 mission, rather than face ...

NASA questions Apollo 13 commander's sale of list

January 6, 2012

NASA is questioning whether Apollo 13 commander James Lovell has the right to sell a 70-page checklist from the flight that includes his handwritten calculations that were crucial in guiding the damaged spacecraft back to ...

NASA's Apollo 13 checklist sells for $390,000

November 30, 2011

A checklist used to guide the wounded Apollo 13 spacecraft home after the explosion that led to the famed "Houston, we've had a problem" call sold at auction in Texas Wednesday for just under $390,000.

NASA says it's working to resolve items' ownership

January 9, 2012

(AP) -- The head of NASA met Monday with former astronauts to discuss who owns space artifacts from moon shots and other missions, saying afterward that the agency will work cooperatively with them to resolve what's recently ...

Recommended for you

Freeze-dried food and 1 bathroom: 6 simulate Mars in dome

January 20, 2017

Crammed into a dome with one bathroom, six scientists will spend eight months munching on mostly freeze-dried foods—with a rare treat of Spam—and have only their small sleeping quarters to retreat to for solace.

Image: Wavemaker moon Daphnis

January 20, 2017

The wavemaker moon, Daphnis, is featured in this view, taken as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made one of its ring-grazing passes over the outer edges of Saturn's rings on Jan. 16, 2017. This is the closest view of the small ...

The evolution of massive galaxy clusters

January 20, 2017

Galaxy clusters have long been recognized as important laboratories for the study of galaxy formation and evolution. The advent of the new generation of millimeter and submillimeter wave survey telescopes, like the South ...

Astronomers search for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet

January 19, 2017

Is there anybody out there? The question of whether Earthlings are alone in the universe has puzzled everyone from biologists and physicists to philosophers and filmmakers. It's also the driving force behind San Francisco ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jumbybird
not rated yet Mar 24, 2014
How do these objects end up in private hands, aren't they public property, and shouldn't they be in a museum at JSC, KSC or the Smithsonian? I think NASA should sue for the money. That could help pay for a lot of science.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.