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16 Jun, 2007 17:42

Soyuz space capsule sold at French auction

A Soviet Soyuz space capsule, which was launched back in the eighties and spent about two weeks in space collecting scientific information before parachuting down to Kazakhstan, has been sold at an auction house in Paris for some 72,000 euros.

Now the otherworldly object on a quiet Parisian street is attracting everybody's attention. Parisians gather around to take photographs in front of the unusual construction and wondering how it landed in the French capital.

A French transporter took the capsule on a tour of Europe, but after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian space agency couldn't afford to pay him so they gave him the capsule.

Now that transporter has sold it on for a tidy 72,000 euros at the Drouot Auction House.

The buyer is a Frenchman who wants it for his private collection and doesn't want to give his name. Auctioneers say space memorabilia sells well.

“Space exploration was the best thing to come out of the 20th century. For many people it takes them back to their childhood, to the first sputnik flight, the first man in space – Gagarin, the first man on the moon,” David Nordmann, an auctioneer, explains.

Although this capsule didn't carry cosmonauts, it's a direct descendant of the Vostok that took Yury Gagarin up to space.

The capsule still bears the scorch marks of its journey beyond the Earth's atmosphere and fissures from the moment it crashed back onto the surface.
To some people the capsule is just a big round hunk of metal. To others it's a rare and magical relic of the Soviet space programme.