February 2, 2014
Camera Used During NASA Moon Landings To Be Auctioned Off In March
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
A piece of NASA history will be available for purchase next month, as the only camera purported to travel to the moon as part of the Apollo program will be auctioned off in Vienna, Austria on March 22.
According to collectSpace.com, the camera was used by astronaut Jim Irwin during the US space agency’s Apollo 15 mission. Irwin, the eighth man to walk on the lunar surface, used the camera while exploring during his 1971 journey.
The camera itself is a 70-millimeter Hasselblad Electric Data Camera (EDC) and will be auctioned off by the WestLicht Gallery during its March Photographica Auction. The gallery describes the device as the only camera to reach the moon and return home to Earth.
However, that claim is disputed by collectSpace.com, which stated in their report on the auction that at least one other camera – the one used by Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard – also made it to the moon and back. Furthermore, the website noted that transcripts of conversations between the astronauts and ground control suggest that Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan also returned his Hasselblad, though its whereabouts are unknown.
Regardless, the camera, which is being auctioned off by an Italian collector, contains “a small plate inside with the number 38 – the same number that appears on the NASA snapshots” of the moon, French news agency AFP reported on Friday. WestLicht Gallery owner Peter Coeln claims that the plate is “100-percent proof that this camera is the real thing and really was on the moon.”
“The offered camera no.1038 was one of 14 cameras used on the moon during the APOLLO missions 11-17 (nos.1002, 1003, 1016, 1020, 1023, 1026, 1027, 1028, 1031,1032, 1033, 1036, 1038, 1039),” the auction listing said. “But only this Hasselblad used on the 4th NASA mission between July 26th to August 7th, 1971 made its way back to earth finally landing at the Westlicht auction house.”
The other 13 cameras were left on the moon, with the astronauts returning with only the film magazines so that they could retrieve lunar rocks equal in weight to the instruments, the organizers added. Irwin took reportedly 299 pictures during his three-day stay on the lunar surface and an additional 96 during the voyage to and from the moon.
“This historical camera comes with an extensive documentation and photographs taken by Jim Irwin, assembled by its former owner Alain Lazzarini, author of the book 'Hasselblad and the Moon,’” the auction listing said. The starting price is listed as 80,000 Euros (or just under $108,000 US), and the camera has been estimated to sell for between 150,000 and 200,000 Euros (approximately $202,000 to $270,000 US).