With $42 million to spare, if you have enough for an outright spaceship purchase you could own, Sotheby’s is holding an auction featuring 173 items such as an Apollo 11 lunar sample return bag flown during its mission and Vostok 3KA-2 capsule that sent Cosmonaut Gagarin on the inaugural human orbital flight.
Space Shuttle Orbiters
The Space Shuttle Orbiter was at the core of every manned spaceflight system; it transported humans into space and back home again. Measuring 122 feet long with a wingspan of 78 feet and featuring ceramic thermal tiles on its underbellies for extra insulation during its numerous flights, the Orbiter was the vehicle responsible for taking people into orbit and returning them home again.
The Orbiter is powered by 49 rocket engines used for liftoff, attitude control in space and reentry. These engines are fed hydrogen and oxygen from its large external fuel tanks.
The Orbiter uses an array of navigation equipment to support its flight and landing systems, including three redundant Inertial Measurement Units (IMU’s) and quad redundant Rate Gyro Assemblies; additionally it features Honeywell four channel fly-by-wire flight control computers.
Space Shuttle Engines
Nasa has offered Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour orbiters–which together have launched 86 space flights since 1984–for sale along with their engines: the RS-25 Combined Power System is up for auction at $42 Million each plus costs associated with clearing away toxic and other harmful materials from them, prepping them for travel and delivering them directly to their new homes.
These engines are in good condition but cannot be dismantled for transportation due to being assembled with titanium fasteners welded onto each engine block. Therefore, the winning bidder will have to agree to having them professionally cleaned, refurbished, and maintained by an appropriate contractor.
The National Air and Space Museum will almost certainly get first choice of any available Orbiters; however, Discovery may remain on display at its Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center for display.
Space Shuttle Capsules
Any vehicle rated to carry human crew must be effective and comfortable, yet lightweight in mass and capable of withstanding the intense G-forces and heat of launch and reentry. The RKK Energia design for Kliper meets those requirements perfectly.
Its cylindrical design makes the capsule inherently stable when traveling at supersonic speeds through Earth’s atmosphere, while its blunt bottom creates friction against Earth’s atmosphere to slow it without resorting to large parachutes like you might expect with splashdowns. Boeing and SpaceX, two companies developing spacecraft for NASA’s commercial crew program, both base their designs on this reliable approach.
Boeing and SpaceX currently ferry cargo to the International Space Station using their respective CST-100 Starliner and Dragon crew capsules, both designed to be reused ten times before commencing test flights of their crew capsules next year.
Space Shuttle Spacesuits
Once astronauts step off of a space shuttle into space they are protected by an extravehicular mobility unit (EMU), which includes two oxygen tanks connected to a carbon dioxide removal system and provides pressure, thermal protection, cooling water, communication channels, food supplies, waste collection services and electrical power – enabling them to complete an 8-8.5 hour spacewalk without succumbing to oxygen deprivation.
EMU features are already well-tested, such as gloves with unlocking lock rings that allow hands to remain free while managing tools and tethers during spacewalks; astronauts typically utilize between 70 to 110 tools and tethers during each mission.
EMUs also include a variable pressure system to help astronauts gain more flexibility in their joints, particularly those in their hips, which will aid them when exploring lunar surfaces.