Space History Sale Highlights Artifacts From Apollo Lunar Missions
April 7, 2014

Space History Sale Highlights Artifacts From Apollo Lunar Missions

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Artifacts from NASA’s Apollo lunar missions will be highlights in an upcoming auction in New York City. Bonham’s is holding the Space History Sale in the Big Apple on Tuesday and will feature everything from space documents to spacesuits. In all, more than 300 items will be up for sale.

Among the highlights of the April 8 auction will be a motion picture sight ring – a small polarizing filter put on a camera used by astronaut James Irwin on the Apollo 15 mission.

"It was used in the module when it landed on the moon and also on takeoff," Cassandra Hatton, Bonham's space history specialist, told the Associated Press. "It's extremely rare, probably the only one in private hands."

The sight ring has an estimated value of $20,000 to $30,000.

An Apollo 12 shoulder strap covered in lunar dust is also up for sale. During two extensive surface explorations on the moon, Charles Conrad and Alan Bean amassed a great deal of lunar dust on their spacesuits, gloves and flight equipment, as well as the shoulder strap up for sale.

An Apollo 11 surface checklist with annotations from astronaut Buzz Aldrin is also on the bidding block. The document contains data that enabled Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to return to Earth. According to Bonham’s, the document is one of the most extensive sets of notations ever made on the lunar surface. Its presale estimate is $35,000 to $45,000.

While these items are expected to be the key items up for sale, Hatton explained that there will also be an extensive list of items from even earlier in space exploration.

"The sale really covers from the early days of space exploration all the way through ASTP (Apollo-Soyuz Test Project) which is kind of a symbolic end of the space race. So we start with telescopes, before we though [sic] we could even possibly go up to the moon. We've got some globes and then we go into the Mercury program, Gemini program,” she told Reuters, as cited by The Telegraph.

However, Hatton noted, the cream of the crop may be an emblem from the Apollo 11 mission – the first mission to put man on the moon. The emblem is signed by Armstrong and Aldrin and was carried with them into lunar orbit. It has a presale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.

As well as early telescopes and globes, some items are being sold that have not been to space, but have equally as significant histories tied to them.

One is a Mercury-era spacesuit that is not attributed to any astronaut and was never flown in space. As well, a Soviet-era spacesuit that is one of 27 developed for test and training purposes for space missions between 1981 and 1991 is up for bid.

As for moon rocks and moon dust, there will be none of that in this auction, nor in any auction, as it is against international law for such items to be sold. The closest option to acquiring lunar dust is to purchase items used by astronauts who went to the moon. These items typically acquire trace amounts of moon dust.

"On the surface of the moon we don't have water, so the dust is very sharp and angular, So what would happen is that the astronauts would go out on the surface, do their activities and the dust would stick all over their suits. And then they'd go back into the lunar module and touch things, they'd strap things down and that dust would stick," said Hatton.

As with anything that has lunar dust stuck to it, price tags are generally through the roof, as is evident in the upcoming sale of the Apollo 12 shoulder strap, which is carrying a presale estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.

Bonham’s Space History Sale arrives tomorrow, April 8, in New York City.