artifact is an Astronaut Survival Knife - M-1 limited production
similar to the one which flew for the first time on the Gemini III
mission. This knife is serial number 308, model 1966.
This particular artifact was part of the Joe Foss Collection. Joe
Foss was a World War II flying ace and war hero. He was a
recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Later he became
the Governor of the state of South Dakota. His resume also
includes being the first Commissioner of the American Football
League. Foss also was a host on the sporting TV series "The
He was a past president of the America Rifle Association.
Mr. Foss consigned this survival knife for auction to Odyssey
Auctions. The knife was auctioned in the March 26, 1995 Odyssey
Auctions Space And Aviation
And Memorabilia Auction.
This was lot number 430 in that auction.
The item description from
catalogue stated, "430. Rare
"Astronauts" Knife. A limited production knife produced by the W.R.
Case & Sons Cutlery in conjunction with NASA. This is the
same type of knife which was part of the survival package carried on
the Molly Brown by John Young and Gus Grissom. The machete is
house in a shadowbox frame featuring a space background with the Molly
Brown capsule in orbit. An attractive display."
On the back of the
shadowbox is taped a
card describing the knife. The card states,
"New ... Special Made For Our Men In Space.
The Astronaut's Knife. Available In
Limited Production Only!
Case is deeply honored to contribute this
unique knife to the Gemini and Apollo Survival Kits. This was
made to specifications developed in conjunction with NASA Manned Space
Craft Center in Houston, Texas. The first knife used was apart of
the survival package carried in the "Molly Brown" space capsule by Air
Force Major Virgil I. Grissom and Navy Commander John Young on their
historic flight of March 23, 1965. All flights under these
have since this time carried a Case Astronaut's Knife as part of their
There can be no compromise with quality
when men's very lives depend upon their equipment. You can
appreciate our pride when such projects turn to Case for their cutlery
The blade of this notable knife is
engineered of 13 gauge special high carbon stainless steel. The
handle is polypropylene. It is the lightest known plastic that
exudes no fume, a necessary attribute since two primary consideration
in the spacecraft are air purity and minimum weight.
The polished edge is fantastically
sharp. It will literally shave the hair off a person's arm. The
back of the blade has a double row of teeth capable of sawing
wood. The handle is pinned to the blade by a round brass
rod. An area near the handle is purposely left blunt for use as a
pry. The handle is shaped for sure grip and drilled to receive a
presentation case and mailer 4 inches deep x 9 inches wide x 21 inches
long. Weight 6 pounds including knife."
To The Moon Air & Space
Museum obtained this artifact from the Odyssey Auction. Later, a
type written, hand signed statement of authenticity was obtained from
Mr. Foss regarding this artifact.