The Soyuz TMA-11M undocked from the ISS on May 13, 2014, at 22:35:56 UTC. Inside, Mikhail Tyurin, Richard Mastracchio, and Koichi Wakata, representing ROSCOSMOS, NASA, and JAXA, respectively, were preparing for the last critical phase of Expedition 38/39. The mission had come to an end, and the three were preparing for a sporty re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. When they landed somewhere near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, they had each spent exactly 187d 21h 43m 52s in space, mostly on the International Space Station.
Over six months earlier, the mission started with a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Onboard the spacecraft was an Omega Speedmaster that had been given to Richard Mastracchio by ROSCOSMOS. The crew left the earth on a Russian-made Soyuz rocket en route to the ISS. In the wake of the Space Shuttle retirement in 2011, NASA had contracted space aboard the Russian space program’s Soyuz rockets to ferry American astronauts to and from the ISS.
And now, the Speedmaster Astronaut Richard Mastracchio carried with him on that launch will be leaving his orbit as it’s set to be auctioned at RR Auction’s upcoming Space & Aviation Auction, with bidding opening on October 8 and closing on October 15.
What’s interesting, however, is that the watch was reportedly, “provided by the Russian Space Agency to Astronaut Mastracchio prior to the Soyuz launch,” meaning the watch has both provenance connected to NASA, the agency Mastracchio comes from, and ROSCOSMOS, the Russian Space Agency. The Speedmaster comes on an elastic EVA band that’s fitted on endlinks designed specifically for the band. The metal bracelet that’s affixed to the Speedmaster at the factory was removed and left on earth, and replaced with the elastic band. I took a look through NASA’s image archives to see if it was possible to spot the watch being worn by Mastracchio on any of the three spacewalks he performed during Expedition 38/39, but it is not visible. The watch was most likely flown with his personal effects, as Mastracchio is often seen wearing his Omega X-33 aboard the ISS.
The first spacewalk Mastracchio took part in was performed with the objective of repairing the failed loop A pump module on the starboard 1 (S1) Truss of the ISS. It lasted 5 hours 28 minutes. Together, Mastracchio and fellow NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins removed the pump and disconnected four ammonia lines before heading back in. The second spacewalk saw the same team replace the failed pump with a new one and reconnect the ammonia lines. This EVA lasted 8 hours and 7 minutes. Hopkins was attached to the Space Station Remote Manipulator System, also known as Canadarm2, and replaced the pump. Shortly after the two astronauts reconnected the ammonia lines, ammonia was once again flowing through the new pump.
Mastracchio’s role as a Flight Engineer saw him performing a variety of tasks beyond maintenance and piloting duties. The experiments he took part in ranged from studying the effects of microgravity on protein crystal growth all the way to observing how ants behave as part of the Ants In Space CSI-06 investigation. The latter experiment looked at how ants collectively face the challenges of microgravity as part of the search for resources. The data collected could help algorithms in robotics on Earth.
In 2015, Christie’s sold a Speedmaster that had flown on Apollo 17 on the wrist of NASA astronaut Ronald Evans, which he wore on an EVA to retrieve film canisters. The watch sold for $ 245,000.
Lawrence L. McGlynn is perhaps the foremost expert on space collectibles, with a keen focus on watches. He’s one of the hosts of the Discovery Channel series Space Dealers, and he’s lectured and written extensively on it. He’s a collector himself. To get an idea of the significance of Mastracchio’s Speedmaster, HODINKEE reached out. McGlynn found the watch to be particularly interesting for a number of reasons, saying that, “Any space-flown watch is significant. While more flown watches are appearing on the market as astronauts and cosmonauts retire and sell their flight souvenirs, flown watches are not commonplace. One significant point about Rick’s watch is that it is from a NASA astronaut. You do not see many Omega watches coming from a U.S. astronaut. I have seen, and currently own, flown and unflown U.S. astronaut owned watches – they have not been Omega Speedmasters. I would estimate the price realized to be in a range between $ 30K and $ 40K.”
Considering the $ 40,000 asking price of a “Snoopy” Apollo XIII 45th Anniversary Limited Edition, $ 40,000 for a watch with legitimate history and provenance sounds like an absolute bargain.
Check out Astronaut Mastracchio’s Speedmaster that was flown on Expedition 38/39 here. Bidding opens on October 8. The watch was originally spotted by Brendan Cunningham (@katimepieces) of Horlonomics.