Historic space camera smashes auction estimate

November 14, 2014

The Hasselblad 500C space camera was used by astronaut Wally Schirra, a camera enthusiast, who bought it at a camera shop in Houston, Texas, in 1962, complete with an 80mm Zeiss Planar f/2.8 lens.

The Swedish-made camera, the first Hasselblad in space, was snapped up by an unnamed UK collector for $281,250 – sending its presale auction estimate of $50,000-$100,000 into orbit.

Its previous owner had paid less than $15,000 for the camera in 1994.

Schirra (pictured above) is said to have carried the kit into orbit aboard the Mercury-Atlas 8 rocket mission in 1962. Until then, cameras had only been used to record on-board flight data, according to Boston-based auction house RR Auction.

‘This really is an important piece of space history. This is the camera that changed the way the Earth was viewed,’ said RR Auction’s vice-president Bobby Livingston.

‘It went for so much money because it comes with letters from astronaut Gordon Cooper which gives clear title to the owner… after the USA passed a law in 2012 giving ownership of these types of items to the astronauts,’ he explained.

‘We are thrilled, as is the consigner… and most importantly, it has been sold to a major space artifacts collector based in the UK; a space historian who pledges to properly curate this camera.

‘It is a museum-quality piece and it will be in great hands for future generations.’

Pre-mission modifications to the 500C included the installation of a 100-exposure film container.

The camera was also used by astronaut Gordon Cooper on the next Mercury space flight.

hasselblad 500c space camera schirra space.web

First Hasselblad in space revealed

Free download!

Get your free digital download of Improve Your Photography - Photoshop & Lightroom!