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Rocket Sculptures Flown on SpaceShipOne to be Auctioned

Rocket Sculptures Flown on SpaceShipOne to be Auctioned
One of six Retro Bronze Mini Rockets that was flown aboard SpaceShipOne on its X Prize winning flight. The sculpture was designed by Erik Lindbergh and will be auctioned beginning December 3 to benefit his grandparent's foundation.

A small, bronze, Flash Gordon-style rocket sculpture that flew to space earlier this year will be auctioned online beginning tomorrow to benefit an aviation pioneer's foundation.

The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation announced that a "Retro Bronze Mini Rocket" designed and created by Erik Lindbergh, grandson of the aviator, will be auctioned on beginning on December 3, 2004. The "Retro Rocket" flew on-board SpaceShipOne earlier this year, on the winning flight of the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE competition. Six similar statues were flown, though only this one will be available to the public.

"This rocket is very much inspired by the adventures of Flash Gordon, although Flash and Buck Rogers haven't been in my life for a couple of decades," described artist Erik Lindbergh in an interview with collectSPACE. "I think they are indelibly etched into my psyche."

"It is that 1950's romantic idea of spaceflight (absent the modern complications) that I wanted to capture," said Lindbergh, who has served on the Foundation's Board of Directors since 1998 and is currently their vice chairman.

The rocket sculpture, which is serial number 2, measures 1.5 by 1.5 by 4.5 inches and is accompanied by a secure frame shadow box for display. It is dated and initialed by Lindbergh.

A framed certificate of authenticity signed by Burt Rutan, who designed SpaceShipOne and pilots Mike Melvill, Brian Binnie and Doug Shane is included with the rocket. The stationery used for the certificate was also flown into space aboard SpaceShipOne's October 4, 2004, flight.

The eBay auction will begin tomorrow morning with an opening bid of $2,500. The leading bidder 10 days later will be awarded the flown sculpture, though will need to wait until February 2005 to take possession of the rocket.

On Saturday, December 4, the statue will be placed on display at the Seattle Museum of Flight in Washington as part of a special exhibit entitled Rustic Rocket Science - The Sculptures of Erik R. Lindbergh. The gallery, which also includes examples of Lindbergh's sculptural style of furniture-making, will close on Monday, January 31, 2005.

To bid on the Retro Rocket, point your web browser to or search for the keywords "Retro Rocket" on beginning on Friday.

"I hope [the rocket sculpture] is captured by someone who is passionate about exploring space and expanding the human potential," said Lindbergh.

All proceeds with benefit the Lindbergh Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, based in Minnesota, which strives to encourage and inspire present and future generations to work toward improving the quality of life through a balance between technological advancements and environmental preservation.

The X Prize, which inspired and was ultimately won by Mojave Aerospace Ventures' SpaceShipOne, was based in part on the $25,000 Raymond Orteig prize awarded to Charles A. Lindbergh for his trans-Atlantic non-stop flight. On October 4, 2004, Brian Binnie piloted SpaceShipOne to an altitude of 67 miles, marking the second successful spaceflight for the vehicle in as many weeks. Developed entirely from private funds, SpaceShipOne was recently named TIME Magazine's Invention of the Year for 2004.

This article first appeared on and is published here with permission of its author. Further updates about this auction and a link to the direct eBay lot when it goes live will be posted here.

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Robert Z. Pearlman
Robert Z. Pearlman

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.