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Apollo 15 Moon Camera Could Fetch $600,000 at Auction

A one-of-a-kind lens used by Apollo 15 astronaut Dave Scott to photograph the moon is expected to fetch between $400,000 and $600,000 at auction.

A total of 293 pictures were taken using the Zeiss Tele-Tessar 500 mm f/8 lens, which was produced especially for the Hasselblad Electric Data Camera (HDC).

‘RR Auctions’ in Boston, which is selling the lens as part of a ‘Space and Aviation’ Auction, says 1971’s mission was partly to obtain the most extensive quantity and variety of photography of any moon mission to date.

The silver Carl Zeiss AG lens measures 12 inches in length and is engraved near the mount with NASA part numbers SEB 33100284-S/N 1006.

Scott moving toward Hadley Rille carrying the 500-mm camera/lens NASA

Special tabs were fitted to the rotational segments so that when the astronauts were wearing their space suits, they would still be able to adjust the focus and focal stop, with their gloves on.

The silver color was chosen for the camera and lens to maintain more uniform internal temperatures in the extreme heat of the lunar surface.

Unsurprisingly, the lens shows signs of wear and tear from extensive use in space, including when Scott fell over holding it while walking on the Moon. 

Several affixed Velcro tabs, as well as the lens cap and rear, are covered in duct tape, which has been signed in felt tip pen, “D.R. Scott.”

The camera took almost 300 pictures during the moon landing. PHOTO: NASA

In a letter that accompanies the sale, Scott writes “I hereby certify that the Zeiss f8/500 mm Tele-Tessar lens included with this letter is from my personal collection and was attached to my Hasselblad camera on the surface of the Moon and in lunar orbit during Apollo 15, the first extended scientific exploration of the Moon, July 26—August 7, 1971.

“This special…lens unit…was an integral part of the Hasselblad Electric Data Camera (HDC) that I used throughout the four lunar surface EVA excursions at the Hadley Apennine site as well as two days in lunar orbit. The Tele-Tessar Long focal length lens was designed by Carl Zeiss AG, Switzerland to be used at a fully open aperture with limited degradation in image quality and produced especially for the Hasselblad camera.”

The letter concludes by saying: “After our three days on the Moon, it was returned to the Command Module in lunar orbit where it was used for two more days to photograph the surface of the Moon. After the mission, I received the lens from NASA as a memento of the mission and it has been in my personal collection since that time.” 

Online bidding for the lens begins on Thursday, April 14 and concludes next Thursday, April 21.