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NASA’s Rare Glimpses of Space Now Up for Auction

By Joe Tan

NASA/Christie’sCourtesy of NASA/Christie’s
Prelaunch activities: Neil Armstrong taking photographs with the Hasselblad camera and the crew during lunar training

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin during training at the Kennedy Space Center for Apollo 11 mission, estimate bid US$2,520 - US$3,780.

Sputnik II/Christie’sCourtesy of Sputnik II/Christie’s
The dog Laika, first animal to orbit the Earth

The dog Laika, the first animal to orbit the Earth, before launch onboard Sputnik II, November 3, 1957, estimate bid US$1,260 - US$1,890.

Eugene Cernan and Thomas Stafford/Christie’sCourtesy of Eugene Cernan and Thomas Stafford/Christie’s
The CM Charlie Brown, first spacecraft photographed in lunar orbit

The CM Charlie Brown, first spacecraft photographed in lunar orbit as seen onboard Apollo 10, 18-26 May 1969, estimate bid US$1,890 - US$3,150.

Thomas Stafford/Christie’sCourtesy of Thomas Stafford/Christie’s
The Planet Earth

The Planet Earth as photographed from Apollo 10 between 18-26 May 1969, estimate bid US$3,780 - US$6,300.

Courtesy of Buzz Aldrin and Ralph Morse/Christie’s
Astronauts making mankind’s historical moments

Left: First self-portrait in space of Buzz Aldrin onboard the Gemini XII between 11-15 November 1966, estimate bid US$7,560 - US$10,080. Right: The Original Seven Project Mercury astronauts at Langley Air Force Base in July 1960, estimate bid US$1,260 - US$1,890.

James McDivitt/Christie’sCourtesy of James McDivitt/Christie’s
Gemini IV space mission documented as it happened

Left: The first US Spacewalk by Ed White floating in space over south California onboard Gemini IV between 3-7 June 1965, estimate bid US$3,780 - US$6,300. Right: The first photograph of man in space taken over Hawaii between 3-7 June 1965, US$7,560 - US$10,080.


Space has long held fascination amongst the masses with its countless nearly-unfathomable mysteries. Through NASA’s extensive spaceflight programs during what many considered the golden age of space exploration in the ’60s, we are now able to bridge the chasm between our wildest imaginations and what is truly out there in photographic detail. While most will likely remember iconic images of the “Blue Marble,” Neil Armstrong on the moon with the American flag or Laika the first dog to have orbited Earth in a space capsule, a majority of milestones lensed by the astronauts themselves are kept hidden from public view in the archives of the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. That is, until now. 

Unveiled by Christie’s in an online auction, running from now till 19 November, entitled Voyage To Another World: The Victor Martin-Malburet Photograph Collection, these previously private photographs documenting the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space missions are now released for sale to the general public. In a press release, Christie’s says, “In a time when photography was still analogue, requiring light-sensitive chemistry, film and photographic papers, the astronauts were instructed by NASA, Hasselblad, Kodak, Zeiss specialists and by Life and National Geographic photographers such as Ralph Morse and Dean Conger. Through their cameras, the astronauts-turned-artists were able to convey to mankind the beauty and profundity of their experience into space, forever changing the way we see ourselves and our place in the universe.”

Assembled over 15 years by private collector Victor Martin-Malburet, this auction lot comprising of 2,400 vintage original photographs, which includes the first space selfie courtesy of Buzz Aldrin, represents the closest thing to an impossibility realised in the jaded modern era. More than camera roll filler, these photographs specially produced by NASA and their contributing experts capturing the otherworldly landscape in lunar orbit are greater, if not comparable to the finest art created closer to home for its unprecedented historical significance. So, for those who have gazed upwards and thought of bringing the wonders of the final frontier into their living spaces, now’s possibly your only opportunity to do so.

Christie’s Voyage To Another World: The Victor Martin-Malburet Photograph Collection, running from 6 -19 November 2020.