Famous international auction house Sotheby's is ready to auction out a significant piece of Space Exploration history. After being lost for years and having been passed from one auction to another, Neil Armstrong's moon dust bag is valued at $2 million to $4 million.
Space Exploration History Auction
Perfectly timed to commemorate the Apollo 11 landing on July 20, 1969, the British auction house will hold a live sale featuring various materials from both the American and Soviet space exploration programs. The star of the auction, however, is Neil Armstrong's moon dust bag, which he used to bring home the very first lunar dust samples.
Though most of the other artifacts and equipment from the Apollo 11 mission are kept in the U.S. National Collections at the Smithsonian, a court ruling had recently allowed the bag to be the only piece of Apollo 11's artifacts to be kept by private persons.
'Contingency Lunar Sample Return Decontamination Bag'
The history of the bag, which by the way still contains some of the original particles collected by Armstrong, was unknown to the public for quite some time. It was reportedly misidentified and merely sat in a box at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Somehow the bag ended up in the garage of a Kansas museum manager until it was ceased by U.S. Marshals Service. The museum manager was then convicted of the bag's theft. In 2014, it was offered three times to a small auction house without getting a single bid.
In 2015, the bag was sold to a Chicago attorney for merely $995. Curious about the origin of the product, she sent it to NASA where it was confirmed to be a "Contingency Lunar Sample Return Decontamination Bag" that was in the Apollo 11's stowage list.
During the mission, Armstrong collected nearly 500 grams of material and 12 rock fragments from a part of the lunar surface known as the Sea of Tranquility.
From her $995 purchase of the bag, it is now valued at $2 million to $4 million. She evidently plans to support her school, Northern Michigan University, as well as various charities from the sale of the bag.
Other Auction Items
There are other items from the Apollo 11 mission open for bidding as well. A photo of Buzz Aldrin taken by Armstrong is estimated at $3,000 to $5,000, while the astronauts' detailed flight plan for their return to Earth is valued at $25,000 to $35,000.
A Snoopy astronaut doll that was used as the mascot for Apollo 10 is also currently estimated pre-sale at $2,000 to $3,000.
Apart from American Space exploration, remnants of the Russian space exploration program will also be available to interested buyers. Yuri Gagarin is the Russian astronaut who is actually the very first human to orbit the Earth in 1961. The English-translated governmental report on his descriptions of Earth based on his experience has an estimated value of $50,000 to $80,000.
The Space Exploration auction will be held on Thursday, July 20 in Sotheby's New York where 180 space exploration items will be auctioned off.