Curated Collection of Space Race Models Documents “The Greatest Adventure on Which Man has Ever Embarked”

26 scale models, from Sputnik to the Space Shuttle, offered at no reserve

Heritage Auctions is offering a collection of detailed models spanning the Space Race in its Space Exploration Signature Auction, May 19. Heritage will be auctioning 26 scale models from one of the finest space collections in the country, all at no reserve.

The highlight of the collection is a museum-quality All-Metal Vostok 1 Capsule Model. On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin piloted Vostok 1 to become the first man in space, and an international celebrity on Earth. Gagarin’s formative years were spent between Nazi occupation and farm labor. He joined the Soviet Air Force and rose through the ranks quickly. Physically fit, intelligent, and at 5 feet, 2 inches, Gagarin was the perfect man to pilot the diminutive Vostok spacecraft. Gagarin returned from space a hero. Grounded from spaceflight by his commanders for fear of losing their hero, Gagarin toured on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Sadly, he was killed when his MiG-15 jet crashed in 1968.

Soviet Vintage All-Metal Vostok Spacecraft Model on Base Engraved with the Date of Yuri Gagarin’s History-Making Flight

It would not be a stretch to say the model on offer is better built than the original Vostok capsule that took Gagarin into orbit. It was crafted over the course of several months by the Energia Space Corporation, a titan of the Russian space industry. Energia built the actual Vostok capsule, and as a result, the model is a perfect copy. It measures nearly a foot tall and features full exterior wiring and tubing. It is a well-known model in the space community and has been on display at numerous space conferences and exhibitions. It is mounted on a polished metal base and engraved “Vostok, USSR, April 12, 1961” in Cyrillic. It would undoubtedly be the centerpiece of any collection or institution.

The leading piece from the American side of the Space Race is a 1/96 Assembled Revell Saturn V signed by Nine Apollo Astronauts. The Revell Saturn V was released weeks after the Apollo 11 landing and would become the best-selling model kit for two decades. The model on offer is accurately built and stands 45 inches tall. It features felt tip signatures from Alan Bean, James Lovell, Rusty Schweickart, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Charlie Duke, Al Worden, and Buzz Aldrin. Altogether they have amassed 232 hours on the Moon and over 192 days in space. Exceptional in provenance and presentation, the model is fit for display in any setting.

Saturn V 1/96 Model by Revell Signed by Nine Apollo Astronauts Including Five Moonwalkers

Perhaps the most stunning piece on offer is a Soviet Sputnik 1 and 8K71PS Launch Rocket Model, also crafted by Energia of Russia. Sputnik 1 was the first satellite in space and simultaneously captivated and terrified the world. It was launched into orbit by the 8K71PS, a modified intercontinental ballistic missile. The piece stands 24 inches tall and gleans with a mirror-like polished aluminum finish. The modern finish on a classic design invokes a strong sense of retrofuturism. The solid wooden base is signed by Salizhan Sharipov, one of the world’s most experienced cosmonauts.

Soviet Vintage Sputnik-1 and 8K71PS Launch Vehicle Model Made by Energia, Signed on the Base by Salizhan Sharipov

The Space Race entered a period of détente in the 1970’s. With the Vietnam War over, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union thawed. The Apollo-Soyuz project took place in 1975 and was the highpoint of pre-Gorbachev/Reagan cooperation. Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft docked in space for 44 hours and conducted a series of experiments. Heritage is offering a Vintage Museum Model of the Apollo-Soyuz Docking. It is well-detailed, accurate, and measures 19 inches long. The gray, white, and silver finish of the Apollo module and the mint and white of the Soyuz module are spot-on.

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project: Soviet Vintage Museum Model on Wooden Base

The collection features 22 other stunning models, from spy satellites to the Lunar Lander.

Precision handmade satellite model
Soviet Vintage Zenit-2 No. 2 / Kosmos 4 Spy Satellite Model on Base

Pre-Apollo 11 version 
Apollo Lunar Module Grumman Contractor’s Model on Base


Written by: Jake Moon

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