The joystick used to land the crew of Apollo 15 on the moon in 1971 has sold for $610,000 at an auction. This is believed to be the highest price ever paid for a piece of NASA memorabilia.
The sale took place during the 7th Space and Aviation Autograph and Artifact Auction, held in Massachusetts.
Commander David R. Scott operated the controller to guide the lunar module Falcon to a same landing on the surface of our planetary companion. The joystick was also the navigational control for the lander's journey back from the lunar surface, to a rendezvous with the lunar module Endeavour for a return back to Earth.
The controller "was especially significant during Apollo 15 whereby during the initial descent from lunar orbit, the Mission Control Center (MCC) informed the crew that the trajectory would take the LM 3,000 feet south of the planned touchdown point," Scott wrote in a certificate of authenticity accompanying the joystick.
Also for sale during the auction were an Crewman Optical Alignment Sight (COAS), used by Scott during that same mission. The nine-inch, one-and-a-half pound device sold for more than $126,000.
"What Clement Ader Did," a manuscript from 1910, signed by flight pioneer Wilbur Wright, sold for over $67,000. The essay also contained some handwritten notes by Wilbur's brother, Orville.
This work begins, "Clement Ader was a French electrical engineer, who during the last quarter of the nineteenth century devoted a great deal of study and money to the problem of human flight... [He] proceeded to the construction of a large machine, having a steam motor of 40 horse power. This apparatus was tried under conditions of great secrecy in October 1897... but the results were so unsatisfactory that the French Government, which had spent more than one hundred thousand dollars on the project, refused to advance further funds."
A silver Robbins medal from the historic Apollo 11 mission which first put humans on the moon sold for more than $38,000. The opening bid on that item was just $1,000. A similar medal, which rode aboard the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, brought in more than $13,000, while a flag from that flight took in almost $8,000 for organizers.
A reproduction of the Declaration of Independence, flown on the Apollo 11 mission, sold for $31,409.
A few of the items sold for relatively low prices. A pewter model of the Liberty Bell 7 command module, a patch from Apollo 13 and a cosmonaut seminar card all sold for less than $250.
The auction was held by RR Auction of Boston.