What price The Right Stuff?

by Matthew Cobb

If you’ve got €600,000 to spare, get yourself to Vienna and the Westlicht Auction House for the auction of 4,500 photos from the glory days of the US manned space programme, from the 1950s to the final mission to the moon – 40 damn years ago! The photographs, from a European collection, will be sold in two lots and have an estimate of €400,000-€600,000.

Here are just a few – you can see more of them here and read more about them here.

Space: An early prototype of a space suit being tested

Prototype space suit from the 1950s. Photograph: Erich Hartmann/Courtesy of WestLicht

Space: Alan Shepard is prepared for flight

Alan Shepard suits up for the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission, May 1961. Photograph: Courtesy of WestLicht.

Space: Mercury-Redstone 4 mission, flight prepapations

Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom gets into the capsule for the Mercury-Redstone 4 mission, July 1961. Grissom was killed in the Apollo 1 fire, January 1967, along with Ed White and Roger Chaffee. Photograph: Courtesy of WestLicht

Space: Astronaut Ed White

Ed White on a spacewalk on the Gemini 4 mission, June 1965. Photograph: Courtesy of WestLicht

Space: Apollo 14, Commander Alan Shepard

Alan Shepard made it to the moon! Commander of Apollo 14. Photograph: Courtesy of WestLicht

Space: Geological survey walk on the moon

The last time we were there: Apollo 17, December 1972. Photograph: Courtesy of WestLicht.


  1. Stephen Lee
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    The last photo caption should read Apollo 17 (not 16).

  2. Philip Elliott
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I believe the last time was Apollo 17. Nice pictures, anyone want to go half sites?

    • Philip Elliott
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Halfsies. Dang autocorrect.

  3. Posted November 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Hate to picky but isn’t the last pic from Apollo 17, not 16?

    • starskeptic
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Yep – sure is…

      • Matthew Cobb
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Fixed. Thanks all four of you.

        • Woof
          Posted November 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Would have been five. 😉

  4. Sunny
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Let us not forget the Zambian space program:


    • Pray Hard
      Posted November 4, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink


  5. Occam
    Posted November 4, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    NASA was once synonymous with hi-tech and modernity.
    Now silver halide prints from its halcyon days are newsworthy for being on the block at an auction house that otherwise specialises in vintage Leicas and Victorian albumen prints.

    Maybe the earnings can be invested towards stocking up bayonet arsenals and replenishing US cavalry stables?

    I also understand the odd Dreadnought may be available in some scrapyard, now that the Chinese are no longer hunting down the last smidgen of junk steel on Earth. But even that might require the compensatory scrapping of Big Bird, to balance the budget.

    • Pray Hard
      Posted November 4, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Couldn’t have said it better had I pondered for 40 years.

    • Notagod
      Posted November 4, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      They say he is one of the smartest mor[m]ons! That’s why they call him Mittens.

  6. Pray Hard
    Posted November 4, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    This makes me sad. What happened to us? Where did we go? I hope some of you baby-boomers wonder also. I wish I was really capable of communicating to you youngsters what it felt like to be a kid interested in science and space and rockets during that period of time. It was literally like the Universe opening up and saying “Come and see” …

    I met an older man last summer who was the lead astronaut trainer for the Apollo program. I’m hoping to do a video interview with him this coming summer and somehow acquire a good list of questions from you guys and others. All of the men and women who worked on that program are nearing the end of their lives. If you know anyone of them, let’s interview them before they’re gone.

    And now we have this:


  7. Matti K.
    Posted November 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Is the picture of Alan Shepard taken with some kind of special lense? The proportions of the extremities of both men seem to me quite unnatural.

    • blitz442
      Posted November 5, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

      Shepard was actually about 7’9″, by far the tallest astronaut ever. And the technician helping him there was none other than Archie “Stretch” Wilkins, all 4 feet 7 inches of him.

  8. marksolock
    Posted November 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

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