Kunsthaus Lempertz auctions first space capsule in Europe

Russian space capsule of the type Vozvrashchayemyi Apparat for preview in Berlin - Auction in Brussels on 7 May

The Vozvrashchayemyi Apparat Space Capsule is probably the first spacecraft that entered space twice in its history. On 7 May the VA Space Capsule will be auctioned at an estimated value of $1-2 million.

On 23 March 2014 a Boeing 747-800 landed at Frankfurt Airport, carrying a Russian space capsule of the type Vozvrashchayemyi Apparat (VA). Weighing nearly two tonnes, the spacecraft had been brought from Saudi Arabia. Over the next few days the VA Space Capsule will be taken to Berlin in a special heavy goods vehicle and will be made available for preview. From 4 to 7 April this piece of space history will be on show at the Jewish Girls’ School.

On 7 May the VA Space Capsule will be auctioned at an estimated value of $1-2 million, together with two historic Sokol KV2 spacesuits (estimated value $80,000 - $100,000) at the newly opened Lempertz branch in Brussels. From the 26 April the VA can be viewed at the historic building on Rue du Grand Cerf.

The VA Space Capsule is probably the first spacecraft that entered space twice in its history. It formed part of the historic Soviet space programme, so that it also had its share in the technical development of the International Space Station (ISS).

“Mankind has been dreaming of flying for many centuries. It was a thought that inspired Leonardo da Vinci and many other outstanding artists. And for me as an auctioneer it is the greatest honour to auction this piece of recent history,” says Prof. Henrik R. Hanstein, the owner of Kunsthaus Lempertz.

In 1977 and 1978 the VA Space Capsule served on two Cosmos space missions under the Almaz programme, thus becoming the first spacecraft to be used more than once. The space capsule, which was intended to take supplies to space stations, stayed in space for over 30 days. VA Space Capsules were designed to transport up to three persons or three unattended heavy objects, such as large spy cameras.

This success was a major milestone, set by Soviet engineers in the race against the American space programme during the Cold War. The next stage in the programme was the first modular space station, Soyuz, which was visited by Sigmund Jähn as the first German astronaut in space.

“The dialectical principle of thesis, antithesis and synthesis has its surprising counterparts in the VA Space Capsule. This is because throughout its history it featured as an integral component in numerous Soviet space programmes where the technical design principles and lines of development continued all the way to the flagship of international astronautics – the International Space Station (ISS),” says Prof. Bernd J. Höfer, former Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).

However, as well as playing a major role in world politics and serving the scientific exploration of space by humans, the VA Space Capsule continued to be used for private and commercial spaceflights. Space capsules and space stations were subsequently bought by Excalibur Almaz and were used for taking private passengers into space.

Facts about the items:

  • The VA Space Capsule (Vozvrashchayemyi Apparat) bears the serial number 1-11 Φ71B-0320-0 No. 060 and weighs 1.9 metric tonnes. It is 2.2 m high and it has a diameter of 2.8 m at the widest point of its floor.
  • The Sokol-KV2 spacesuit was worn by the Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri on his flight to the MIR space station in the Soyuz TM24 spacecraft on 17 August 1996.
  • The second historic Sokol spacesuit was worn by the British-American astronaut Michael Foale in the Soyuz TMA3 (ISS Expedition 8) in 2003.

Facts about Space Sales:

So far the most spectacular space sale was held in 2011, when the Soviet space capsule Vostok 3KA-2 was sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $2.9 million.

Facts about the Almaz programme:

The Almaz programme was a military space programme of the Soviet Union. It was the first time that space capsules were launched into space and subsequently reused. Apart from the Space Shuttle, the Vozvrashchayemyi Apparat (VA) capsules of the Almaz programme have been the only space vehicles that were used more than once.

The Almaz programme consisted of three subsystems:

(1) The VA Spacecraft (11F74) with the VA Space Capsule as its main component, i.e. the capsule that is being auctioned,

(2) The Orbital Piloted Station (OPS) (11F71), the core module of the space station as a manned orbital station,

(3) The Functional Cargo Block (FGB) (11F77) as a transport vehicle to take supplies to
the station.

Facts about Lempertz:

Kunsthaus Lempertz is one of Europe’s leading art auction houses and the oldest family-owned auction house in the world. The history of this enterprise goes back to 1798. Its first international office was opened in New York in 1965 and was followed by further branches in Zürich and São Paulo. The office in Brussels was reopened in 1985. In Germany Lempertz has branches in Berlin and Munich, where auctions are held on a regular basis. Operating from its head office in Cologne, Lempertz expanded its operational business activities to the two most important cities in Europe – Berlin and Brussels.

Preview in Berlin (4-7 April 2014):

Jüdische Mädchenschule
(Jewish Girls’ School)

Auguststrasse 11

10117 Berlin

Preview and auction in Brussels (26 April 2014 - 7 May 2014).

Grote Hertstraat 6, Rue du Grand Cerf

1000 Brussels

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