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Salyut 1W camera (Pic: Leitz Photographica)
The modified cameras were built for the Soyuz programme in the 1960s (Pic: Leitz Photographica)

A Salyut medium format camera built for the cosmonauts to use outside Soviet space capsules in the 1960s is going on sale this November.

The Salyut 1W was a modified version of the Kiev-built Salyut camera for the Soyuz space programme, and featured enlarged controls that could be manipulated by photographers using space gloves.

The camera, being sold at the Leitz Photographica Auction in Austria in November, is expected to sell for between €40,000 and €50,000 (£34,000 to £42,500/$46,150 to $57,700).

Leitz Photographica says on the camera’s listing: “The Salyut 1W was one of the first Soviet space cameras and was specially developed for the Soyuz 4 space mission, which was launched on 14 January 1969. It was the first manual rendezvous and docking mission with the Soyuz-5 spacecraft. There was no internal corridor connecting the two vehicles, so the crew had to step into space with handrails on the vehicles to make the transition.

“The mission’s commander was Vladimir Shatalov (1927-2021), who flew the Soyuz 4 alone and, after successfully docking, brought the crew of the Soyuz 5 – the cosmonauts Aleksei Yeliseyev and Yevgeny Khrunov – back to Earth safely. For this achievement he achieved hero status in the Soviet Union and was awarded the Order of Lenin.

“The crew used a Salyut 1W camera to document the mission. The camera had a special handle and viewfinder as well as enlarged controls that enabled the camera to be operated with large space suit gloves. The copy offered is in excellent original condition and includes a modified Industar-29 2.8/80mm No. 6700294, a special viewfinder, two film magazines and a matching handle. A similar camera is on permanent display in the Yuri Gagarin Museum.

“It is one of the rarest Soviet cameras and a very interesting piece in the history of space exploration.”

There is no indication that the camera itself went into space, but examples of such space-ready cameras are of course rare.

The sale takes place on 20 November.

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Stephen Dowling
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