Pioneering Space Camera Sells at Auction for $275,000

The camera that "would forever change our view of Earth" from space more than a half century ago has been sold at auction for $275,000, the auctioneer says.

The Hasselblad camera body and Zeiss lens, reportedly purchased by astronaut Wally Schirra at a Houston photo supply shop in 1962 and believed carried into orbit aboard the Mercury-Atlas 8 and 9 missions, was sold Thursday by Boston-based RR Auction to a private collector in the United Kingdom who wished remain anonymous.

The Hasselblad camera body and Zeiss lens carried into orbit onboard NASA's Mercury-Atlas 8 mission in 1962 where it was used by astronaut Wally Schirra, and again on Mercury-Atlas 9 in 1963 where it was used by astronaut Gordon Cooper. AP Photo / RR Auctions

The camera was top of the line at the time, costing more than $400, and vastly improved the quality of space photography, said Bobby Livingston, RR's executive vice president.

"In terms of photograph quality the Hasselblad camera at the time was in a league of its own — and it was this camera that would forever change our view of Earth," he said. The selling price was far above the $50,000 to $100,000 the camera was expected to fetch.

The camera is in good hands. "The new owner has a passion for space photography and understands its historic significance," Livingston said. "He'll take care of it."