Korolev was the manager of all the important projects : ballistic missiles, Sputnik which was the first spacecraft to orbite the Earth, the approach to the Moon by the robotic Luna probes, Vostok which first traveled a man in space, and the Soyuz space vehicle.
Luna made several great achievements : first impact on the Moon of a man-made spacecraft with Luna 2 in 1959, first photograph of the far side of the Moon in the same year by Luna 3, first soft landing by Luna 9 in 1966.
Luna 16 in 1970, Luna 20 in 1972 and Luna 24 in 1976 scratched the soil of the Moon and brought back some dust for a cumulative weight of 326 g. For comparison Apollo human missions carried 380 Kg of lunar rocks and dust on Earth.
As a tribute to Korolev, three tiny particles collected by Luna 16 were presented to his widow. They were encased together under glass below an adjustable lens. This set is the only example of lunar soil from the space programs that has ever been in private hands : samples kept by governments and their diplomatic gifts cannot be available for trade.
This lot was sold for $ 440K including premium by Sotheby's on December 11, 1993. It is estimated $ 700K for sale by Sotheby's in New York on November 29, lot 63.
SOLD for $ 860K including premium