Project Mercury spacesuit lands at $12,000 in Bonhams auction



2015-06-26 11:32:48

A spacesuit used in Project Mercury, the first US manned flight programme, will sell on April 8

An extraordinary spacesuit used in the US’ first manned flight programme, Project Mercury, has been consigned to Bonhams.

The suit will sell on April 8 in New York as part of the Space History auction, valued at $8,000-12,000.

Project Mercury was carried out between 1959 and 1963, aiming to put a human into orbit around the Earth. It was Project Mercury that first captured the attention and imagination of the public, kick starting the Space Race that would last until the early 1970s.

As Bonhams states, the suits at this time were essentially modified versions of the high altitude pressure suits used by the US Navy, made by BF Goodrich. Using material developed by 3M, the green nylon was coated in an aluminised powder to create the iconic look that inspired thousands of sci-fi films and toys.

“The Mercury spacesuit epitomizes the earliest days of space exploration,” commented Bonhams’ Cassandra Hatton. “A direct parallel can be drawn to the time when Columbus first set sail in 1492. No one knew if he would ever make it back, and one could only imagine what he would encounter on the voyage.

“It was a time of fear and wonder, and the Mercury era was exactly the same.”

Also starring in the sale is a Russian Strizh spacesuit, which was used for training. It was designed to protect the Soviet cosmonauts from “ejection at altitudes of up to 30 kilometres and speeds up to Mach 3”. One of only 27 ever made between 1981 and 1991, and one of just a few that were not destroyed, it is expected to sell for $15,000-20,000.

In Vienna on March 22, a camera used on the surface of the Moon during the 1971 Apollo 15 mission will sell with a $200,000-270,000 estimate.

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