Excalibur Almaz Space Capsule Bought at Auction

Credit: Excalibur Almaz

Is this the end of the line for Excalibur Almaz, the Isle of Man company that had a dream of turning old Soviet space hardware into gold?

An anonymous bidder snapped one of the company’s space capsules for $1 million euros ($1.39 million) on Tuesday during an auction at the Kunsthaus Lempertz auction house in Brussels, Belgium. The vehicle had flown into space unmanned on two occasions during the 1970’s as part of the Soviet Union’s space station effort and had been refurbished by Excalibur Almaz.

The auctioned capsule was one of four reusable reentry vehicles (RRV) owned by Excalibur Almaz, which also acquired a pair of Almaz space station modules that never flew. The company’s intent has been to recycle the hardware for use in crewed missions to Earth orbit, cislunar space, libration points and deep space. However, the company has never announced a customer.

Whether Excalibur Almaz is still pursuing this aim is unclear. An email to Rob Lazaro, who is listed as the company’s public relations director on its website, has not been returned. The last news update on the site is from July 2012.

  • mzungu

    oh god, how they going to find some qulifying engineer in that island is beyond me…..how they ever find a engineer that understand Russin on that island is beyond me as well, … how that non-existent engineer will start to understand the minutiae behind the blueprints is way beyond me….

    Think the story here is they extracted as much snake-oil money from the old and senials with the show-n-tell pieces, now they r getting rid of it.

  • Stuart

    Who bought it? Was it Mars One?

  • Geoff T

    The Isle of Man is literally a 40 minute flight from the British mainland and Britain has the world’s second largest aerospace industry. I doubt a lack of engineers was the main problem somehow. The amount of hardware they acquired and their initial attempts at being involved in COTS and CCDev seems proof of genuine intent rather than a scam. I just assume they’ve either sadly hit the rocks in terms of funding or the quality of the hardware they bought.

  • Douglas Messier

    I don’t think this was a scam. But, it has never amounted to very much.

    No disrespect to the mighty British aerospace sector, but my guess is it has a significant lack of expertise in the human spaceflight industry. The engineers and technical staff also need to be on the ground, not a short flight away. Lots of places are a 40-minute flight away from someplace that might have a core of qualified workers. Does Isle of Man have any core of expertise in anything other than international tax law?

    You are probably correct, however, that a lack of engineers is not Excalibur Almaz’s problem. The company could never find anyone interested in using its 40 year old hardware. If you need a space station module, there are companies in multiple countries that can build brand new ones to order. The capsule they had seated 4 people, far less than what NASA wanted for commercial crew.

  • mzungu

    Can’t say it any better, being geographically isolated is not detrimental in the internet age, but it definitely would not help with a fragile Startup company. U would definitely attrat more talent, if you don’t require that engineer to uproot his family or shipping harwares in-and-out of that island.

    What bugs me is, why they paint it? 4 sure U can get more money out of it, if it retains more historical burn-marks/values???

  • mzungu

    Even I am allow to summit a proposal to COTs or CCDev.

    As to the quality of the proposal, and the unrealistic expectation that how a foreign entitity/hardware with not a single engine firing or any previous hardware manufacturing experiences can deliver, brings to question as to why they r doing it….. Getting publicity, something to show the uninformed investor that they are shoulder to shoulder with Boeing and the like….

  • cdevboy

    No disrespect to your comment or the British Aerspace Sector, but how is it calculated that they are worlds second largest aerospace industry. I know Rolls Royce is large and if Britain is still working as part of or with Airbus would be sizable. Still I have to consider Russia (past years), China, India, Japan to name a few as comparison. What is their size calculation based on? Just seeking awareness, Thanks

  • Geoff T

    I’ll admit I based that claim off a Wikipedia article but based on what I can find the total industry turnover the UK is either the 2nd or 3rd largest after the US and France (although 2nd and 3rd place seems to swap semi-regularly between reports I’ve read).

    From a 2009 European Commission report:

    “With a total turnover of EUR 28.9 billion in 2008,
    France is one of the leading aerospace indus-
    tries worldwide. The comparable figures for
    the USA are EUR 58.4 billion and the United King-dom EUR 26.4 billion.”

    (Report here: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/aerospace/files/aerospace_studies/aerospace_study_en.pdf)

    From a 2013 British parliamentary report:
    “Some of the main findings from the report are:
    *The UK has the largest aerospace industry in Europe and is second only to the US worldwide; it has a 17% global market share of industry revenues.
    *UK aerospace revenue was £24.2 billion in 2011, a real terms increase of 2.5% compared with 2010.
    *Civil aerospace revenues grew by 5.1% in real terms, while defence aerospace produced
    no real growth in a difficult year. ”

    (Report here: http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN00928.pdf)

    A third report by the Aerospace and Defense Industry Association of Europe I found doesn’t break down the figures for EU member states but seems to show aerospace revenues for Russia well below those of the USA, EU and Canada.:


    As for the Isle of Man it seems they are (or were) attempting to develop themselves into a small time aerospace hub by developing an “Aerospace cluster” for component manufacturers like GE. So I guess there’s some degree of engineering prowess on the island, even if it seems to be landing gear manufacturing.


  • cdevboy

    Hi Geoff, Thanks for the work in digging up all those numbers. I just found a DoD Buzz page http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/01/29/boeing-has-record-sales-of-87-billion-in-2013/ where they state that Boeing total sales for 2013 were $87 Billion which is net, not actual profit. Something is wrong on how all these people are reporting numbers. I think your claims are generally correct but think all these people are playing magic with numbers to back up their positions or something. If Boeing is 87B on its own Then US total must be much bigger. If I was any kind of money person I could speak more knowledgeably. Thanks for the interaction on this subject