NASA has authorized the auction of space gear from the Apollo 11 era to the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, and some of it has dust from the Moon. There are also lots of other items from various eras at the upcoming New York auction at Bonhams. There are even some Soviet items on display. The auction will highlight some of the most prominent years of the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Today, NASA depends on the Russian Federation for space exploration and trips to the International Space Station. During the Apollo era, however, the United States was at the height of technological innovation.
There are some spacesuits on auction. One suit comes from the early Mercury era, and was never used. The silver spacesuit is currently estimated to go for $8,000 to $12,000. Another spacesuit of Soviet design, a Strizh spacesuit, is estimated to go for $15,000 to $20,000. The Soviet suit is one of only 27 created between the years of 1981 and 1991. It was designed for the Soviet Buran space shuttle program.
Another prized item at the auction is a lunar surface checklist from Apollo 11. It has notes from Buzz Aldrin written on it. This data was used to help Neil Armstrong and Buzz blast off from the lunar surface and connect with the command module in orbit around the Moon.
NASA space gear from the surface of the Moon has been contributed to the auction from various sources, including Apollo astronauts. One of the most anticipated auction items is that of a shoulder strap saturated with lunar dust. The strap was used by Charles Conrad and Alan Bean of Apollo 12 during lunar surface explorations. Since there is no water on the Moon, the dust clings tightly to the strap. It is illegal to auction dust or rocks from the Moon, so this is one of the only ways that private collectors can obtain specimens from the lunar surface. The strap could go for $25,000 to $35,000, possibly more.
There are American flags taken on various Apollo missions up for auction, as well. A silk flag carried on the Apollo 11 mission is expected to go for at least $20,000.
Small items are going for big money, too. A motion picture sight ring used by James Irwin on Apollo 15 is also on the list. Cassandra Hatton, the space history specialist at Bonham, said that the sight ring is “extremely rare.” She added that the ring is “probably the only one in private hands.” The piece is expected to go for $20,000 to $30,000.
One of the most exciting pieces at the auction should be an Apollo 11 mission emblem that flew in lunar orbit. It was signed by the entire crew: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. The emblem could go for $50,000, and possibly much more.
Most of the excitement should center around items from Apollo 11, since that was the very first mission in human history to land men on the lunar surface. The auction of so much historical NASA space gear items from the Apollo missions should garner a lot of attention from collectors, especially since so many items may have come into contact with Moon dust. Space history buffs will start the bidding next Tuesday.
By Luke Sargent