Authentic working Sputnik-1 test model headed to auction
The Soviet Union's Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1 (Elementary Satellite 1) was the first artificial Earth satellite, and its launch on October 4, 1957, is one of mankind's greatest technological milestones and the single event which launched the Space Race, further heightening Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. The launch of Sputnik-1 catalyzed a new era of political, military, technological, and scientific development. Now a full scale test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite is to go to auction at Bonhams' Air and Space Sale on September 17, 2019.
The fully-functioning model was built in February, 1957 by the Soviet Experimental Design Bureau (also known as the S. P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia) and the Moscow Electronics Institute Novaya.
The scientific and political back story to the launch of Sputnik-1 is fascinating and was covered in an in-depth feature article by New Atlas' David Szondy in October, 2017, entitled Sputnik and the birth of the Space Age.
There are only a handful of known examples of the Sputnik-1: three in private hands, one just outside Moscow at the Energia Corporate Museum, and one at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, which does not have the internal components of the example at Energia Corp.
Bonhams has previously sold two of the three examples in private hands, having sold serial number "OKб-1/003/1957" (pictured above) in 2016 for US$269,000, and serial number "OKб-1/002/1957" in 2017 for $847,500.
The Sputnik going to auction on September 17 has the serial number "OKб-1/001/1957", and while Bonhams' official auction estimate is for a price between $400,000 and $600,000, given that there are unlikely to be any more authentic Sputnik-1 models coming to auction in the forseeable future, the #001 serial number, and the landmark significance of the Sputnik-1 satellite, we expect it will fetch more than $1 million.
The original 58-cm (23-in) diameter Sputnik-1 spent three weeks orbiting the Earth in working order before its batteries died, then a further two months as space junk orbiting the Earth, before falling back into the atmosphere in the final days of 1957.
Source : Bonhams