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Wednesday 25 May 2016

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The only camera to make it to the Moon and back sold at auction for $1 million

By James Vincent

Published 26/03/2014

The Hasselblad 500 camera which was part of the equipment carried by the 1971 Apollo 15 mission
The Hasselblad 500 camera which was part of the equipment carried by the 1971 Apollo 15 mission

The only camera to ever make it to the Moon and back has been sold at auction for just under $1m - or roughly £600,000.

All the other cameras used in the Moon landings were abandoned on the lunar surface to avoid carting extra weight back home (more rock samples could be taken back instead), and the astronauts simply removed the film from the devices before they skipped town.

This particular Hasselblad 500 was used on the Moon during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971. The only reason it avoided lunar abandonment was that the film got jammed and James Irwin (the astronaut who was using it) simply decided to take the whole thing back with him instead.

The Hasselblad wasn’t the first camera to go to the Moon (that would be the one taken by Neil Armstrong during the first lunar landings in 1969) but as the only one that’s ever made it back to Earth it is entirely unique.

Like other cameras used on the Moon it was also modified to handle lunar conditions. This meant simply painting it silver to reflect sunlight and keep it cool, and stripping away the majority of switches and toggles on the camera's body to make it easier to handle by astronauts wearing clumsy, pressurized gloves.

The historic device was sold to Japanese businessman Terukazu Fujisawa, who is – rather fittingly – the founder of the Yodobashi Camera retail chain.

Fujisawa paid €550,000 for the Hasselblad in a hotly contested auction in Vienna. The expected going price was nearer to €200,000, but along with the fees for the auction house the total cost was €660,000 – or just over $910,000.

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