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    America's second manned space flight: capsule lost at sea in 1961 and recovered in 1999.

    Mercury-Redstone 4 Liberty Bell 7 Flown Spacecraft "Switch-Fused Connector" Component as Recovered from the Submerged Capsule in 1999, Originally from the Personal Collection of Recovery Expedition Leader Curt Newport. A really special item: an actual part from Gus Grissom's famous Liberty Bell 7 space capsule mounted to the top of a 4" x 3.5" x 2" Lucite presentation display with the engraved text: "LIBERTY BELL 7/ COMPONENT/ Lost at Sea July 21, 1961/ Recovered July 20, 1999/ Switch-Fused Selector/ Harris Manufacturing Company 1961". Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom became the second American in space on July 21, 1961 when he flew the McDonnell-manufactured Mercury spacecraft # 11 to an altitude of 118 miles and a distance of 300 miles. This was the first of these space capsules to have a centerline window (instead of portholes) and also the first to have a new explosive hatch release. It was this new hatch release that led to the loss of the Liberty Bell into the deep Atlantic waters off Cape Canaveral when it exploded prematurely, letting water into the capsule. The part is used, as expected, on an excellent condition display.

    The Liberty Bell 7 capsule was finally brought up from the watery depths of the Atlantic one day shy of the thirty-eighth anniversary of its loss. Curt Newport, after fourteen years of effort, led a Discovery Channel-financed team and finally succeeded in lifting the spacecraft onto the deck of the recovery ship on July 20, 1999. It had been found at a depth of nearly 15,000 feet but was in amazingly good condition. The capsule was taken to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center where it was carefully disassembled, cleaned, and re-assembled for a national tour. Since 2006, it has been on permanent display at the Cosmosphere.

    This part is very well-provenanced. Included with this lot is a signed Statement of Authenticity from Newport, stating: "I hereby certify that the enclosed component, 'Switch-Fused Selector,' Harris Manufacturing Company, Part No. 34-007, is a genuine part of the electrical system of the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft, McDonnell Capsule No. 11, lost at sea July 21, 1961 and recovered on July 20, 1999."

    Also included is another Newport-signed, illustrated Letter of Certification stating, in part: "On July 20, 1999, I fulfilled a 14 year long dream of finding and recovering Virgil I. 'Gus' Grissom's Mercury Spacecraft... After Liberty Bell 7's recovery, the capsule was brought to the Kansas Cosmosphere for a complete restoration. Spacecraft components that were removed, but not in good enough condition to be reinstalled, were presented to me as leader of the expedition team... This [item] has been part of my personal collection, since it was presented to me..." A color, signed photo of Newport with the component is included as is a copy of the 1961 McDonnell parts list for Grissom's Mercury capsule showing this part.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    8th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,655

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