Going back to the moon was never going to be cheap for NASA, so it’s a good thing the agency is offloading some of the equipment from previous missions, including an Airstream that once led the way as the space shuttle rolled down the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, as the Drive reports.
Despite a sign on the window saying “ran when parked” (not really), someone paid $21,061 — not including a bogus $325 “Purchase Price Fee” — at a government surplus auction to tow a pinstriped 1989 Airstream Executive Air Coach back home where, hopefully, they might restore it to its former glory.
And it wasn’t just an undisclosed some one vying for the vehicle; it was several people in a small bidding war that closed with 19 bids in total. That’s more than Chevy’s Corvette Z06 NFT. Ouch. To be fair, the Chevy auction was for a car and glorified JPEG, and the GSA auction was for an RV with historic significance.
The GSA listing makes zero mention of the Airstream’s importance, which makes sense because it was an official auction that’s not really meant to sensationalize, but it also makes little sense because confirming it was part of the Space Shuttle Program would’ve attracted more bidders and more money.
Come on NASA. Get your money! Instead, it was a Twitter thread by MacCallister Higgins that uncovered the possibility of the Airstream having once been part of the convoy that rolled with the beloved space shuttle.
After a bit of speculation and a lot of digging, Higgins concluded the Airstream likely accompanied the space shuttle as the NASA Convoy Command Vehicle any time the shuttle landed in California at Edwards Air Force Base. Higgins says the Airstream served as a mobile command hub for NASA on 54 missions.
Those 54 runway passes with NASA’s space craft just behind racked up a measly 8,199 miles, but I imagine the trips were hard-wearing and tense. The ’89 Airstream was in rough shape when sold, and the listing said the winning bidder would have to bring a truck with a winch to remove it.
The NASA logo had been crudely ripped away, but it’s easy to see where it went, And the red and blue pinstripes are still there across the side. Under all that faded paint and time, we can still make out the Convoy Command Vehicle. Godspeed, Airstream. I hope you’re going home to a well-earned retirement.