THE SPACE MAGNA CARTA.
Printed certificate featuring an illustration of the linked Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft, with mission insignia below. Text in English and Russian. 9 x 12 inches. Light rubbing to very extremities, right corners very slightly bumped, one 3mm nick to top edge.
Provenance: Christie's East, September 18, 1999, lot 208.
ONE OF ONLY FOUR COPIES, and the symbolic end of the Space Race.
SIGNED IN SPACE by TOM STAFFORD, DEKE SLAYTON, VANCE BRAND, VALERIE KUBASOV, and ALEXEI LEONOV.
The Space Race essentially began in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik 1, and was arguably "won" in 1969 when the USA put a man on the moon. But it was not until the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975 that the two competitors literally shook hands in Earth orbit. The Project would see the docking of an Apollo spacecraft with its Soyuz counterpart, using a special docking module attached to the Command Module.
This final Apollo mission carried Tom Stafford, Vance Brand, and Deke Slayton. On board the Soyuz were Alexei Leonov and Valery Kubasov. Leonov, particularly, had been a key player in the Space Race, as he was the first man to walk in space in 1965. Similarly, Slayton had been selected as one of the original Mercury 7. On July 17, 1975, the two spacecraft docked, and the commanders, Stafford and Leonov, shook hands through the open hatch of the Soyuz, a moment whose symbolism cannot be overstated. The image of détente in space was powerful, although the reality on Earth was more problematic: even organizing a joint press conference involved six months of negotiations.
Nonetheless, one of their first tasks was to sign four copies of a certificatetwo for the Americans and two for the Russians. The document notes that "the flight crews ... share the hope that this first International Manned Space Flight will stand in the light of history as a significant advance in the ability of their nations to work together in ways that advance the interests of people everywhere."
Of the four copies of this document, two copies had English text on the left and Russian on the right, and two had the reverse. Each country submitted one copy of the document to the International Aeronautical Federation as part of the documentation of the historic flight. NASA transferred the remaining American certificate (with English on the left side) to the Smithsonian in 1976, where it is currently either on loan or in storage. The present fourth copy is the Russian one, brought back by Leonov and Kubasov, and surely the only copy in private hands.