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.