According to recent news reports, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville Alabama wants to give away a piece of history — an engineering test article of a Saturn I Block I booster. The catch? You’ll need to pay to haul it off, which will cost about $250,000. According to C|Net, the offer appears to be for museums and schools, but it’s likely that price tag would probably scare most private buyers off anyway.
On the other hand, if you are a museum, library, school, or university, you can score cheap or free NASA stuff using their GSAXcess portal. In general, you do have to pay shipping. For example, a flexible thermal blanket from the shuttle costs $37.28. A heat tile runs about $25.
The picture, by the way, is a 1965 shot of a test article at MSFC, so it is possible it is the very one that is up for grabs. You wouldn’t think there would be too many test articles still laying around from that era, so this is something of a rarity.
If you really want to buy old NASA gear — or possibly useful gear from other agencies — the GSA has several methods to take your money. A quick search on GSA Auctions found some sort of NASA control panel that was already up to about $1,300. On the other hand, a lot of two oscilloscopes (a Fluke and a Tektronix 425) was only up to $25. You can even buy a lighthouse, if you really want one.
Even though we’ve reported on the death of surplus, it is still around if you know where to look. While you might not find obsolete Russian tunnel diodes in a US gov’t auction, you might just find what you need. If what you need is a rocket engine.
Thanks for the tip [Allen M.]