Home Guide Links Contact Valuation
< Previous Guide

Flown cutlery

Next Guide >

Since NASA's first 'space food' consisted of either rehydrated matter that was squeezed through a tube into the mouth or small 'bite-size' pieces of drier foodstuff that could be eaten directly with the fingers, there was no need for any cutlery to be carried aboard the spacecraft.

The crew of Apollo 8 were the first to experiment with using a conventional teaspoon to eat some foods and they found this worked quite well in a weightless environment. The Apollo 9 crew took the experiment one step further by cutting open a rehydratable food package and eating the contents with a spoon.

This led to the development of a new kind of food package known as the 'spoon-bowl', first introduced on the Apollo 10 mission. This consisted of a pouch of food that could be rehydrated with hot water, then opened at the top with scissors so that the contents could be eaten with a spoon. Typical 'spoon bowl' meal items included chicken and rice, beef stew, and spaghetti and meat sauce. On later missions some thermostabilised 'wet pack' foodstuffs were provided in a metal container with a peel-off lid and were designed to be eaten directly with a spoon.

The Apollo astronauts were usually allowed to keep their personal spoons after the flights and, although mundane-looking, the fact that these spoons were carried into space makes them valuable collectibles.

Apollo missions

The first spoons to be flown by NASA were apparently carried for experimental purposes on the Apollo 8 and Apollo 9 missions, with one spoon provided per crew member. From Apollo 10 onwards these spoons became part of the regular flight euipment and two additional spoons were provided for use in the Lunar Module.

Flown Silco and Community spoons

Top: Apollo 10 flown Silco spoon
Bottom: Apollo 16 flown Community spoon

The earliest flown spoon I've seen sold dates from Apollo 9. On that mission, and through to Apollo 11, the astronauts used a stainless steel tea spoon produced by Silco - a major supplier of flatware to the military.

Each spoon had a simple engraving on the handle with the astronaut's role at the top and the mission number below as a Roman numeral e.g. "CMP / X" for Apollo 10 CMP John Young.

From Apollo 12 through to Skylab III the astronauts used a larger Community brand dinner spoon, manufactured by Oneida. A plastic stowage pouch, complete with a small velcro attachment pad, was provided by NASA for each spoon.

Apollo 16 LMP Charlie Duke using a spoon in-flight

Still frame from Apollo 16 16mm onboard film showing LMP Charlie
Duke tucking into a 'wet pack' meal - probably a lemon pudding

For the Apollo missions these Community spoons were engraved with the NASA insignia on the handle followed by the full name of the astronaut. Below the name was engraved either the Apollo flight number and astronaut role (e.g. "APOLLO 16 CDR") or the Lunar Module spacecraft number and astronaut role (e.g. "LM-11 CDR").

The LM spacecraft number was used on the spoons carried in the Lunar Module by the Commander and Lunar Module Pilot, whilst the Apollo mission engraving was used on the Command Module spoons of all three crew members.

On Skylab, thanks to the improved food provisions on these long duration missions, astronauts were issued with knives, forks, dessert spoons and teaspoons, all by Community. The engravings on each utensil were simply the role of the crew member e.g. "PLT" with no name.

For the Apollo Soyuz Test Project they only carried Community dessert spoons once again.

FLOWN availability - Most Apollo and later astronauts were allowed to keep their personal spoons after the mission as mementos and a significant number of these have found their way to market over the years, fetching anywhere from $2,000 to over $10,000, as noted in the Annex below.

Unflown availability - It is likely that standard commercially-available spoons were used for training purposes so unflown examples without markings would not be particularly collectible. However, flight-spare examples with NASA markings have appeared on the market from time to time and tend to send well.

Annex: Flown cutlery sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections

Mssn.AstronautStatusBrandTypeInscriptionSold viaSale DateLot no.PriceReference / Notes
HeritageOct 7 200841169$2,987Auction listing 
HeritageMay 10 201950918$2,500Auction listing 
SwannApr 12 2003161$11,000Opening price ;
Auction listing 
AS10YoungCM FLOWNSilco?TeaspoonCMP
Heritage39904108$2,270Auction listing 
AS11AldrinLM FLOWNSilco?TeaspoonLMP
SuperiorOct 31 1998937Withdrawn
AS11AldrinLM FLOWNSilco?TeaspoonLMP
SuperiorJun 25 1994400$1,437
AS11CollinsCM FLOWNSilco?TeaspoonCMP
Part of Smithsonian collection, NASMNASM collection 
AS12ConradCM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonCHARLES "PETE" CONRAD
Odyssey1994207$1,610Richard Stonely collection
Regency/SuperiorJan 19 2017100$1,680** Sold with LM spoon ; Documentation lost
Auction listing 
HeritageNov 21 202050234$4,000Auction listing 
AS12ConradLM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonCHARLES "PETE" CONRAD
Odyssey1994208$2,185Richard Stonely collection
Regency/SuperiorJan 19 2017100$1,680** Sold with CM spoon ; Documentation lost
Auction listing 
HeritageNov 21 202050233$4,750Auction listing 
AS12BeanCM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonALAN L. BEAN
BonhamsApr 21 2015119UNSOLDAuction listing 
AS12BeanLM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonALAN L. BEAN
AS12GordonCM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonRICHARD F. GORDON
AuroraApr 24 2004544$6,756Sale not completed ;
Auction listing 
AuroraFall 2004396UNSOLDFailed to meet reserve.
Same spoon re-offered
SothebysNov 29 2018221$4,000Auction listing 
AS13LovellLM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonJAMES A. LOVELL
HeritageOct 7 200841099$5,079Auction listing 
AS14MitchellCM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonEDGAR D. MITCHELL
Peachstateunknownn/aunknownSpaceRelics website 
AS14MitchellLM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonEDGAR D. MITCHELL
Private collection
RRAuctionJul 16 20202248$25,000Auction listing 
AS15IrwinLM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonJAMES B. IRWIN
Odyssey1994230UNSOLDLater sold privately
ChristiesSep 18 1999174$3,680Auction listing 
Regency/SuperiorJan 19 2017128$1,440Documentation lost ; Auction listing 
AS15WordenCM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonALFRED M. WORDEN
HeritageNov 2 201240189$3,585Auction listing 
AS16YoungCM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonJOHN W. YOUNG
Heritage3990441133$3,734Auction listing 
AS16YoungLM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonJOHN W. YOUNG
Heritage3990441139$10,157Auction listing 
AS16DukeCM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonCHARLES M. DUKE
Richard Stonely collection
Regency/SuperiorJan 19 2017139$3,240** Sold with LM spoon ; Documentation lost
Auction listing 
AS16DukeLM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonCHARLES M. DUKE
Richard Stonely collection
Regency/SuperiorJan 19 2017139$3,240** Sold with CM spoon ; Documentation lost
Auction listing 
AS17CernanCM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonGENE A. CERNAN
HeritageMar 24 200858029$7,170Auction listing 
AS17CernanLM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonGENE A. CERNAN
On-loan to 2009 Purdue exhibitionPurdue exhibition 
AS17EvansCM FLOWNCommunityDessert spoonAstro-AuctionJul 13 2008$5,975
SLIConradFLOWNCommunitySet of cutleryCDROdyssey1995168UnsoldSet of cutlery.
Private saleunknownn/aunknownRichard Stonely collection
Regency/SuperiorJan 19 2017153$1,380Documentaiton lost ; Auction listing 
SLIWeitzFLOWNCommunitySet of cutleryPLTASF AuctionunknownunknownunknownSet of cutlery.
Private collection
SLIWeitzFLOWNCommunitySpoonPLTGoldbergDec 9 2018830$1,860Auction listing 
SLIWeitzFLOWNCommunityForkPLTGoldbergDec 9 2018831$1,860Auction listing 
SLIIBeanFLOWNCommunitySet of cutleryCDRSet of cutlery.
Richard Stonely collection
Regency/SuperiorJan 19 2017157$2,160Documentation lost ; Auction listing 
SLIILousmaFLOWNCommunitySet of cutleryPLTHeritageJun 3 201141209$2,151Auction listing 
RRAuctionMay 22 2014520$2,972Auction listing 
SLIIIPogueFLOWNCommunityKnifePLTASF AuctionApr 18 200927$955Auction listing [Charity auction]  
SLIIIPogueFLOWNCommunityForkPLTASF AuctionApr 18 200928$1,350Auction listing [Charity auction]  
SLIIIPogueFLOWNCommunityDessert spoonPLTASF AuctionApr 18 200929$1,010Auction listing [Charity auction]  
SLIIIPogueFLOWNCommunitySpoonPLTASF AuctionNov 5 201134$5,000Auction listing [Charity auction]  
SLIIIPogueFLOWNCommunitySet of cutleryPLTASF AuctionNov 6 201045$1,852Spare set of cutlery.
Auction listing 
ASTPStaffordFLOWNCommunityDessert spoonCDR - Thomas P. StaffordPrivate sale1990sn/aunknownPrivate collection
ASTPSlaytonFLOWNCommunityDessert spoonDMP - Donald K. SlaytonGoldbergApr 25 2009604$1,500Auction listing 
ASTPLeonovFLOWNCommunityDessert spoonChristiesSep 18 1999Private collection

Legal Disclaimer:

While every effort is made to ensure that the content of this website is accurate, the website is provided “as is” and I make no representations or warranties in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information found on it. Nothing on this website should be taken to constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation and the author excludes all representations and warranties relating to the content and use of this site.

In no event shall the author be liable for any incidental, indirect, consequential or special damages of any kind, or any damages whatsoever, including, without limitation, those resulting from loss of profit, goodwill, income, or anticipated savings, whether or not advised of the possibility of such damage, arising out of or in connection with the use of this website or any linked websites.

< Previous Guide [ Back to the Guide ] Next Guide >