A camera that was used to shoot a Soviet space mission has been launched for an auction. Heritage Auctions is offering two Konvas Automat cameras, one of which was among the first cameras to ever go to space.
While you would expect historic pieces of gear like this to start bidding at hundreds of thousands of dollars, the bid has started at $3,000 only for each.
The cameras are auctioned as a part of Heritage Auctions’ Space Exploration Signature Auction. The first one the Soviet Voskhod 2 Konvas Flown motion picture camera described as “incredibly rare.” It was issued to Pavel Belyayev, the cosmonaut who commanded the historic Voskhod-2 mission which saw the first man walk in space in 1965. The camera measures an approximate overall 13″ x 8″ x 9.5″. Since it was redesigned for a space flight, it features a few major physical modifications. “A plate on the front, right side of the camera was added by hand to re-enforce a light seal that may have been problematic in testing,” the description reads.
Another camera that’s been offered for an auction is the Soviet Konvas 1KCP 35mm motion picture camera. It was issued to Alexei Leonov, who was the original crew member of the 1971 Soyuz 11 mission. However, Leonov never made it to this flight. An X-ray examination four days before the launch suggested that another crew member, Valeri Kubasov might have tuberculosis. As the mission rules required, the prime crew was replaced with the backup crew. But the disaster struck during preparations for re-entry. The crew capsule depressurized during preparations for re-entry, killing the entire crew. To this day, the Soyuz 11 crew remains the only humans to have died in space.
According to the auction house, this Konvas 1KCP was one of three Konvas cameras that Leonov owned. “One camera was presented to Gennedy Kuprianov, one remains with the Leonov family, and one is known to be lost,” the listing reads. The auction listing notes that no clear modifications have been made to this camera since it wasn’t designed particularly for spaceflight.
We’ve seen many space mission items go up for an auction, from gear to prints. Zeiss lenses from the Apollo moon missions and a Hasselblad used on the Moon landing sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Original moon landing videos were sold at an auction for nearly $2 million. Both cameras in this auction come from a private American collector and the starting price is $3,000 for each. The bidding time is short and there are only a few hours left, so we’ll update the article when we hear the final price.