A moon buggy model cost $38 million to create in the name of moon exploration, but it ended up in a scrapyard in Alabama. Now as an interesting slice of history, it's expected to fetch about $125,000 in an auction.
The mid-1960s lunar rover prototype — dubbed as Local Scientific Survey Module — features no roof, doors, or windows, and has its aluminum and electronics already worn out. Developed by NASA, it was disposed of long ago and ended up in the possession of a scrap metal dealer, only to be rediscovered and featured in news stories last October.
The prototype's finished versions joined three NASA space missions - namely Apollo 15, 16, and 17 - and were left on the moon's surface. The vehicle itself, however, never made it to outer space.
"This historic prototype represents the intense effort, study, and technical innovation that went into making the Apollo program a great success," says Robert Livingston, executive vice-president of Boston auctioneer RR Auction.
Now the rover, which will be shipped from the southern United States, is up for grabs for an estimated $120,000 to $150,000.
This memorabilia of man's space exploration ambitions was actually driven by rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who also happened to invent the V2 rockets that were fired at London for Nazi occupants. It comes with a letter of authenticity signed in part by Otha Vaughan, who was part of von Braun's team.
According to Vaughan, NASA would frequently declare unnecessary items - perhaps including this prototype - as an excess and even sell them.
This particular moon rover was missed being tagged by the space agency, with the owner, Johnny Worley, claiming he bought it from an auction and had it sit in his backyard. The artifact was sold for scrap as the owner died before NASA could reclaim it.
"[NASA is] not at fault for not saving it. They didn't care about it, and that was it," says Vaughan back in October, echoing the priority given to space flight hardware - which the buggy model wasn't.
The online bidding starts on April 14 and will end on April 21. Last year, RR Auction also sold an astronaut's watch for $1.6 million.