Space auctions are awesome events where you're sure to find a few rare gems from the American or Soviet space programs. The recent "Space & Aviation Auction" at RR Auction is going to start on May 16 and end on May 23 and you can bid on 858 items. These lots cover a large portion of the US space program from the Mercury project to the Space Shuttles, and feature a few interesting pieces of Soviet memorabilia also.

This auction at RR brings us dozens of amazing spacecraft parts. If you have all the money in the world, you can almost assemble a historic spacecraft, Frankenstein-style. Look:

#47 - Soyuz Thruster Engine: Very neat Hydrogen Peroxide yaw thruster for use on the Soyuz 7K-OK spacecrafts (1966–1971). Capsules of this design were planned for manned lunar missions. This thruster was one of the key components of the Orientation and Attitude Control Maneuvering engine.

#50 - Salyut Space Station Docking Control Monitor: Docking control monitor from the Salyut space station. It was used in 1970s to control the process of docking and undocking of the Soyuz spacecraft with the space station. Front of the monitor has three regulators, one knob missing: at the bottom on the right is "Brightness"; on the left is "Contrast." An upper left regulator is for the Video Contrast.

#52 - Beaulieu camera that spent 3 years in space: Extensively flown Beaulieu movie camera flown to the Salyut 6 space station on board Soyuz 26 in 1977 and returned to earth three years later on board Soyuz T-3. During the period this was on board the space station it was available for use (during EVAs only) by a total of 29 cosmonauts who served aboard Salyut 6.

#59 - Space Shuttle Buran Heat Shield Tile: Rare shaped heat shield tile made as part of the reusable thermal protection system (TPS) on the Russian Buran shuttle. Tile measures 6 x 4 x 2.5 and is made from lightweight quartz material with multiple layers of a proprietary heat-resistant composite coating, and capable of handling temperatures up to 2700 degrees Farenheit during its re-entry. Two Burans were manufactured and prepared for launch, but after a single unpiloted orbital mission, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the program was canceled.

#266 - Apollo Rubies: Collection of 25 ruby bearings made for the Apollo program. After the fire onboard Apollo 1, NASA engineers were instructed that nothing could be made from flammable materials from then on. This included all metal on metal mechanical pieces that used oil- based lubricants. Engineers were able to develop ruby ball bearings because of their hardness and durability, and they were used on the subsequent Apollo missions.

#399 - Apollo 11 Command Module Rotation Hand Controller Grip: Flown rotation hand controller grip from the Apollo 11 Command Module. This gray grip, when originally attached to a gray rectangular box of switches mounted below, was used by the crew to control the spacecraft's rotation in either direction around all three axes. These controls, one mounted alongside each couch, were connected in parallel so that they operated in a redundant fashion without switching. This handle would have been mounted to the right of the center couch, which means it was probably between Aldrin and Collins during the flight of Apollo 11's Command Module and would have been used as a backup to the Commander's control (Neil Armstrong's) by whomever was sitting in that couch for the particular maneuvers being done (Buzz Aldrin or Michael Collins). Item originates from the personal collection of Bill Whipkey, head of the Scheduling Office and Machine Shop at the Johnson Space Center.

#681 - Lunar Traverse Gravimeter: Lunar Traverse Gravimeter, a production representative example of the same gravimeter used on the lunar surface during the Apollo 17 mission. Built by the Instrumentation Laboratory at MIT, the purpose of the gravimeter was to measure the moon's gravitational field using a precise Vibrating String Accelerometer (VSA). Only three other gravimeters are in existence, one left on the lunar surface by Apollo 17, the mission’s back-up at the Smithsonian, and one other at Columbia University.

#790 - Space Shuttle Tile: A black thermal protection system tile, 5.75 x 6, with NASA identification numbers using a dot matrix part marking printed on one side. This is a high-temperature reusable surface insulation (HRSI) tile.

#245 - Apollo LM Flight Director Attitude Indicator: Very rare and highly important Apollo Lunar Module Flight Director Attitude Indicator (FDAI). Not flown. The red, black, and white ‘8 ball’ was used to define the relative position of the spacecraft in three-dimensional space. Two of these units would be installed on each Lunar Module. An outstanding, intact example of one of the most important instruments necessary for space travel.

#246 - Apollo Block I Control Panel: Early Apollo Block I control panel, #25, measuring 20.25 x 13.5, with 5 rows of switches and circuit breakers for Post Landing systems, the Stabilization and Control System, and propulsion systems. This panel would have been mounted to the left of the commander for use throughout the flight and after splashdown. This is the same type of panel used by NASA in preparation for the Apollo 1 mission, which claimed the lives of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee in 1967. North American Aviation discontinued the Block I design after the accident as NASA concentrated on the Block II design for lunar missions.

#247 - Apollo Sextant: Scarce unflown Block II Apollo sextant. The sextant was used with its counterpart (the scanning telescope) to determine the Command Module’s position and attitude with relation to stars or landmarks.

#248 - Lunar Module Translation Control Assembly: Rare Lunar Module Translation Control Assembly. Unit is unflown. The Thrust Translation Control Assembly (TTCA) was used by the Apollo astronauts to control translation of the Lunar Module in any axis during missions to and from the lunar surface. The importance of this controller cannot be over-emphasized. It was this control that enabled all the Apollo lunar landings to be successful, as the necessity for manual control in the final stages of landing were crucial.

#249 - Apollo Rotation Hand Grip Controller: Rare Apollo Rotation Hand Grip Controller. Also referred to as an attitude controller or rotation hand control, this was used for controlling the spacecraft attitude. Actual flown handles from missions are prized possessions of the astronauts in their private collections, and very difficult to come by for private collectors. To obtain such a rare Block II Rotational Controller is a unique opportunity and makes for a fine display piece in any Apollo-era collection.

#251 - Apollo Lunar Module Strut: Flight-ready Lunar Module deployment truss manufactured by Grumman Aircraft. This piece comprised part of the structural-mechanical assembly between the landing-gear struts and the descent-stage structure. In conjunction with the downlock mechanism, it enabled extension and locking of the landing gear from stowed to the fully deployed position.

#252 - Apollo Guidance Computer: Unflown numerical display panel from the Apollo Guidance Computer Display and Keyboard (DSKY) unit. The DSKY units were mounted in the Lunar and Command modules, and interfaced with the Apollo Guidance Computer—an essential piece of equipment for guidance, navigation, and control of the spacecraft. Commands were entered with two digits in a verb-noun sequence, and the panels were frequently used to display altitude and velocity.

Photos and lot descriptions: RR Auction