We have lift off! Enjoy voyage of discovery at Phill Parker's Space Exploration Auction

Posted on 13/08/2018 in Press Coverage

Space fans have the chance to own Apollo spacecraft parts, an international space suit and even a bottle of space white wine autographed by Russian cosmonauts due to a UK space expert’s decision to sell his life-long collection.

They are among nearly 200 objects being sold by Phill Parker, 71, an international award-winning spaceflight writer, lecturer and exhibition organiser from Newcastle-under-Lyme.

He said: “As I approach my 72nd birthday, I believe it’s time to ensure my collection of historic spaceflight hardware items and paper documents will continue to be utilised to record the first golden age of space exploration by auctioning to interested parties.”

The Phill Parker Collection of Space Exploration Memorabilia will go under the hammer at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers on September 3.

What can you buy?

It includes things like an Apollo space craft power sub assembly, estimate £800-£1,000; space shuttle cables, estimate £140-£160; and an Apollo lunar module lander ascent stage rocket valve, test fired, estimate £1,800-£2,000.

The auction house voyage of discovery also includes an Apollo on board grapefruit and pineapple drink tube, estimate £500-£550; flown-in-space tomato seeds, estimate £60-£70; and a MIR international space suit, estimate £280-£300.

The collection also boasts autographs from America and Russian astronauts including Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon in 1969, and Buzz Aldrin, who also walked on the Moon.

How special is this auction?

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “Space fans will be over the Moon about this – a rare, if not unique, opportunity to buy extraordinary items connected to space exploration. The world is fascinated by all things celestial and, thanks to Mr Parker’s passion for his subject and privileged position as a member of the press, his collection is astonishing.”

“This man is held in such high esteem by the space fraternity, his articles are used by NASA on their Apollo History Project websites including one on the Apollo computers. In fact, Neil Armstrong wrote in a letter to Phill that he’d ‘learn a lot more about his [Apollo] computer after reading Phill’s article. Praise indeed.”

How did Phill Parker's space hobby begin?

Mr Parker said: “My interest in spaceflight began around 1952 when I started borrowing library science books. I read about guided missiles and ICBM rockets being developed for the Cold War and fictional stories of human adventures at futuristic Moon or Mars bases, which excited me.

“Then, on October 4, 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik-1 and, for me as a 10-year-old boy, my dreams of space travel suddenly edged towards reality. On April 12, 1961, the USSR launched Yuri Gagarin into orbit and this cemented my interest in space exploration.

Where has Phill's love of space exploration taken him?

“I’ve written dozens of major spaceflight articles for magazines and journals including covering the historic Apollo Man-on-the-Moon project in the mid-1960s to early 1970s and the early space station programmes.

“I’ve interviewed most of the Apollo Moon astronauts including Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan, Charlie Duke and many others.

“I’ve attended rocket launches including witnessing the giant Saturn V moon rocket lift off, the Skylab space station launch, several Space Shuttle launches and unmanned planetary probe launches. In 1975, I was in Moscow for the joint USA/USSR Apollo Soyuz manned mission. I’ve interviewed NASA spaceflight engineers at Cape Canaveral, Houston and Huntsville and met Russian, British and European cosmonauts and engineers.”

Where have the objects come from?

“The space memorabilia I’ve amassed has come from many sources. For instance, Apollo computer hardware designer Eldon Hall, together with several engineers in Houston, was rebuilding an Apollo computer from spare parts in the late 1990s. The engineers read my Apollo computer article and contacted me.

“They offered me some Apollo computer spare parts, like the Rope and Logic Modules in this auction. Also, when I was researching the Apollo computer article, I contacted dozens of NASA and MIT software engineers and amassed documents about the computer. Some are in the sale.”

Why Phill wants to spread his knowledge?

Over the past 50 years, Mr Parker has given nearly 850 spaceflight talks and lectures. In the mid-70s he founded the West European Space Colony Society and won the ASWA International Space Writers Award for an article on space colonies. In 1977, he organised the first European Space Settlements and Space Industrialisation Conference held at the University of London.

He has also arranged for items to be flown in space and, later this year, a piece of Darwin Millennium Space Rock is due to fly to the moon’s surface.

He said: “I am still promoting spaceflight and the exploration and utilisation of space for the benefit for humanity. I hope to live long enough to witness a return of human beings to the Moon’s surface and I have my fingers crossed for a manned landing on Mars.”

The Phill Parker Collection of Space Exploration Memorabilia will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, on September 3. To find out more, email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.