‘Top secret’ space camera turns up at auction
April 15, 2014
The Prototype Russian Lunar Surface Camera
The Prototype Russian Lunar Surface Camera is believed to be one of two models built for a Soviet programme to put a cosmonaut on the moon between 1969-1974.
It is due to go under the hammer at the Special Auction Services sale in Newbury.
The 35mm camera was supposed to be used with a ‘wire-frame viewfinder’ that would have been built into a spacesuit worn by cosmonaut Alexei Leonov.
It was made at the Ukrainian defence factory in 1968-1969 and marked ‘top secret’.
Despite being told to destroy the two cameras when the Soviet moon landing programme was abandoned, camera designer Leonid Karchnoy took one home with him, according to the auction catalogue.
The camera is expected to raise £8,000-£12,000 and features three lenses: one for landscape shots, the other two for stereo photography.
The current owner said he first became aware of it in 2004, when it was detailed in information sheets distributed to members of the Russian Camera Collectors Club.
Also on sale will be the Gomz Leningrad Space Model II Camera, which was built to be used in orbit for photographing subjects like the moon. It is thought to date from around 1967.
The camera (pictured above) is expected to fetch up to £20,000, even though auctioneers were unable to confirm to AP whether it was actually used on any missions.
It features large dials and extended controls, designed to help cosmonauts operate the camera while wearing gloves.
Aperture was controlled via an external arm – allowing the user to choose apertures of f/11, f/5.6 or f/2.8.
Last month, a Hasselblad camera believed to have been used on the moon in 1971 fetched more than £550,000 at an auction in Austria.
To register for online bidding at the Photographica and Scientific Instruments auction, visit www.the-saleroom.com/sas