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Soviet Space Artifacts | by jurvetson
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Soviet Space Artifacts

I am wearing Yuri Gagarin’s personal wristwatch today, and so it seemed like a good photo opp for another other cool artifact from the Russian space program.


The black ceramic tile that the watch rests on was part of the thermal protection system of the Soviet Union’s space shuttle Buran, which made one flight on Nov. 15, 1988.


The Buran flew only one two-orbit mission, and because it was just as dangerous as the Shuttle it imitated, it flew and landed autonomously, with no humans on board. Five tiles were lost during the flight. More photos below.


This tile was removed after the orbiter was destroyed in a hangar collapse at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 2002.


The watch looks to be an old Russian watch, but I suspected it might be a forgery before I bought it. The auction house failed to notice that a letter was missing from the last name!


I got them to correct the listing, and the bidding did not go high, so I figured it was worth it to have an old Russian watch, perhaps circa 1967, that just might really have belonged to the first man in space (despite the typo in the engraving; perhaps that's why he got rid of it =). Maybe someone in flickrland can help shed light on this.


Here is what the auction house provided (as well as originals of the documents referenced): “Attractive 23 jewel, man's 10K gold wrist watch owned by Yuri Gagarin. Made by Russian watch maker and in working order. Back of watch engraved and has been translated as "YURI GAGARIN MAY 1, 1967". Watch accompanied by a note translated as "The watch was bought by Gagarin in 1967. It was in [his] personal use. Gagarina." Original translation report by Igor Moiseyev of ATLANTIC CROSSROAD, INC included. Watch face in fair condition with sweep wear on center of face patina due to age.”

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Taken on July 20, 2011