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Record-breaking HFL Kholod rocket up for auction

A groundbreaking scramjet rocket, which lead the way for modern-day spacecraft has been consigned to a UK auction

Summers Place Auctions has surprised its regular buyers of garden statuary and natural history with something a little bit more explosive – an experimental scramjet rocket, called HFL ‘Kholod’.

It’s significant because for a time, this rocket held the record for the fastest un-manned vehicle within the earth’s atmosphere, reaching a maximum air speed of Mach 6.47 – or around 5000mph in 1994. HFL stands for Hypersonic Flying Laboratory, and it was actually one of six rockets built to experiment with scramjet technology, and Kholod became a truly international effort, with teams from Russia, France and the USA all working together.

It has been fully decommissioned, with the clever internal gubbins removed by NASA for safety reasons, meaning the Kholod – expected to sell for £35,000-£50,000 – will never fly again. Besides, it will make a great static exhibit, just like the other interesting item offered in the sale…

From the same private collection comes a Russian rocket motor, built by pioneering scientist Alexei Isayev who was known for building a rocket-powered plane capable of 615mph during WW2. The first orbital satilites and un-manned probes to the moon were sent to space using Isayev’s liquid-propelled rocket engines, as well as the world’s first manned space mission. This motor was originally designed to power a surface-to-air missile, but has now been turned into a very functional glass-topped table. This is expected to sell for £2500-£4000.

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