The Hasselblad Lunar Module Pilot Camera, said to have been used by astronaut Jim Irwin on Apollo 15 in 1971, was sold to the head of a Japanese retail chain called Mr Fujisawa.

The camera is hailed as one of up to 15 used on the moon surface during Apollo missions 11-17, according to the Westlicht auction house in Vienna, Austria, where it was sold last weekend.

However, it was not the only one to return from the moon, say experts, despite media reports to the contrary.

‘About 12 cameras were left on the moon, as the astronauts only took the film magazines back home in order to take lunar rocks in the equivalent of the weight of the cameras,’ said a Westlicht spokesman.

The Hasselblad 500 model carries a 60mm f/3.5 lens and ‘control tabs’ designed for space gloves.