Lot #7019
Liberty Bell 7: Recovery Cable Sections (3) from the Collection of Curt Newport

38 years in the making—the recovery cables behind the sinking and saving of the Liberty Bell 7

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Estimate: $5000+


38 years in the making—the recovery cables behind the sinking and saving of the Liberty Bell 7

Limited edition presentation of three lengths of lifting cables that aided in the decades-long search and recovery of the Liberty Bell 7, the spacecraft piloted by astronaut Gus Grissom during the harrowing Mercury-Redstone 4 mission. These three sections combine to tell the story of the Liberty Bell 7 in a way never before possible, connecting the 38-year gap from the time of the capsule’s 1961 sinking to its historic 1999 salvation from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The cables are as follows:

- 3″ section of the stainless steel braided recovery line from Helicopter No. 32 of Hunt Club 1, which Pilot Jim Lewis used to keep the capsule from sinking on July 21, 1961. This very cable remained connected to the original dacron spring-loaded recovery loop and incredibly made the trip from the mud-filled bottom of the Blake Basin to the surface, a distance of over three miles.

- 4.75″ length of 7/16″ diameter Aramid Kevlar double-braided recovery line that was used to hoist the Liberty Bell 7 from the bottom of the Blake Basin to the surface. This section is part of the five-mile-long length of salvage line used to raise Grissom’s capsule to the surface on July 20, 1999. The top two lines had similar purposes: lift the spacecraft. The size and lightness of this Aramid Kevlar fiber illustrate the differences in technology.

- 5″ sample of plow steel double-armored optical fiber umbilical used to power and control the Ocean Discovery ROV during the salvage of the Liberty Bell 7 on July 20, 1999. This optical fiber cable sent 3,000 volts down to the ROV and allowed it to be remotely controlled during the capsule’s recovery.

The cables are mounted together and displayed with an embroidered “Liberty Bell Seven Project Team” patch and glossy photos of the capsule—during the first recovery attempt and at the bottom of Blake’s Basin—that are signed individually in black felt tip, “Jim Lewis, Liberty Bell 7, Command Recovery Pilot” and “Curt Newport, Expedition Leader.” Matted and framed together to an overall size of 18 x 25; the frame backing has been numbered, signed, and dated in pencil by Newport, “001, C. Newport, 5 July 2022.”

Accompanied by a signed letter of authenticity from Newport, who states that “the following cable sections related to the loss of and recovery of McDonnell Capsule No. 11, Liberty Bell 7, are authentic artifacts from my personal collection."

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Space Exploration
  • Dates: #646 - Ended October 20, 2022