The Only Camera NASA Ever Brought Back from the Moon Will Soon be Auctioned Off

Update: According to collectSPACE, this might not have been the only camera brought back from the moon. Check out the update at the bottom for details.


A total of fourteen Hasselblad cameras made it to the moon on the Apollo missions; but of those 14, only one ever made it back. And now, that one camera is going to go home with a lucky (and rich) collector pending an auction at WestLicht in Vienna on March 21st.

As far as photography auctions go, it doesn’t get much more exciting than this. Whoever wins this camera will take home a piece of machinery used on the Apollo 15 mission by astronaut Jim Irwin to take 299 pictures of the moon’s surface and 96 on the way there and back. You might not ever get to go to the moon, but at least your camera did!

The auction will start at just over $108,000, and is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $270,000 before it’s all over. Given how rare it is, however, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if it went for quite a bit more money than that.


Here’s a snippet from WestLicht’s description of the item, explaining the significance of this amazing camera:

Jim Irwin took exactly 299 pictures with this Hasselblad 500 ‘EL DATA CAMERA HEDC’ during his 3 days stay on the lunar surface and 96 more on the way to the moon and back again. The mission was the first not to land in a lunar mare, instead landing near Hadley rille, documenting an area of the Mare Imbrium called Palus Putredinus. The crew explored the area using the first lunar rover, which allowed them to travel much further from the Lunar Module. Often quoted, NASA called Apollo 15 the most successful manned flight ever achieved.

The other 13 cameras that made it to the moon were left there due to weight concerns. To learn more about this incredible camera, head over to the WestLicht website by clicking here.

(via The Verge)

Update: The good people at collectSPACE are supposedly calling WestLicht auction house’s bluff where this rare camera is concerned. They allege that this is NOT the only camera to be brought back from the surface of the Moon. Here’s what they had to say about it (read the full post here):

Was Irwin’s camera the only Hasseblad EDC to return from the moon, as claimed by WestLicht? No, it was not. At least one other, the camera used on the moon by Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard, also came back to Earth.

“They’d like for you to return your camera, so you don’t have to bother removing the magazine from it,” Mission Control radioed to Shepard just before he hit a golf ball off the moon’s surface on Feb. 6, 1971. “You can just put the whole camera in the ETB [Equipment Transfer Bag].”

Similarly, the space-to-ground transcripts suggest Eugene Cernan, Apollo 17 commander and the last man to walk on the moon, also returned his Hasselblad at the instructions of Mission Control, though where the camera is now is not clear.

  • Alan Sailer

    I would be curious how a camera bought and paid for by American taxpayers is now being sold to the profit of a private company?

  • Brian H Lewis

    Like many items bought and paid for with tax money it was probably sold off for surplus many many years ago and now is fair game to sell for what ever the market will bear.

  • Burnin Biomass

    Not only that, the prior owner was (gasp) French! Not even ‘Merican!

    I’m assuming that… you know… he bought it from NASA.

  • Shane

    The most epic camera ever.

  • kendon

    so why was this one brought back? serious question, just wondering about that.

  • DLCade

    According to collectSPACE, it kept jamming on Astronaut Irwin and so he was instructed to bring it back to Earth for further inspection.

  • Chris Malmberg

    Why is it not just being donated to a museum?

  • Joel Brand

    Shouldn’t this be in an “Air & Space” museum, or maybe the Smithsonian?

  • Eugene Chok

    if those institutions had the funds and believed it to be noteworthy they could easily purchase it… unless some wealthy individual decides to make a donation of the camera

  • Carl Meyer

    You should ask Cosmosphere; they have experience in the business, both at home and abroad.

  • SpaceMan

    Great, not just an old film camera but one that needs a CLA…no thanks

  • Dan Harris

    I don’t see any mention of it here, but there is at least one documented case of a camera that was returned to Earth from the Moon, ant it was there for a hell of a lot longer than this one. When Apollo 12 successfully landed within walking distance of the unmanned Surveyor 3 lander that had been there since 1967, it’s television camera was one of several components removed and brought back to Earth to assess their condition after more than two and a half years on the Moon. This camera is now on permanent display in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

  • Bill

    I worked with Jim Irwin at Edwards AFB and at NASA Houston. Jim would have been the last guy to heist anything. This just in case the assholes who just make guesses don’t have to guess about this camera. Everything in the spacecraft evenin the test clones was cataloged and counted, including the cans of Tang.

  • kendon

    i would guess that it has been serviced in the meantime… thanks for the info DLCade!

  • ProtoWhalePig

    So this is the Hasselblad Lunar?

  • ChristianDemocrat727

    I wonder if there is any moon dust on/in the camera. You could auction that off and recoup some of your costs.