Tags: neil armstrong | moon | dust | auction

Neil Armstrong Moon Dust a Big-Ticket Item at Out-of-This-World Auction

Image: Neil Armstrong Moon Dust a Big-Ticket Item at Out-of-This-World Auction

In this July 20, 1969 black-and-white file photo, taken from a television monitor, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, right, trudging across the surface of the moon. (AP Photo, File)

By    |   Thursday, 13 Jul 2017 01:16 PM

A Neil Armstrong-used lunar sample bag with moon dust still in it will be auctioned off at Sotheby's New York next week in an out-of-this-world auction.

The bag, which will be offered up as part of Sotheby's Space Exploration sale, is expected to fetch anywhere from $2 million to $4 million, according to a statement on the auction house's website.

The Associated Press stated that the material comprises just some of the 180 lots linked to space travel that Sotheby's is auctioning off to mark the 48th anniversary of the first lunar landing on July 20, 1969.

"Still containing traces of the moon dust, the artifact gives a collector the chance to not only own some of the first lunar material ever collected, but also the chance to own an exceptionally rare relic of humanity's greatest achievement — landing a man on the moon," the Sotheby's statement said.

"During the Apollo 11 mission Neil Armstrong collected nearly 500 grams of material finer than one (centimeter), as well as 12 rock fragments larger than one (centimeter) from five different locations on the lunar surface in the region known as the Sea of Tranquility."

The bag with the moon dust and small rocks had been misidentified and nearly trashed before it was seized for auction by the U.S. Marshals Service, the AP noted.

"Scientific tests revealed the dust in the bag to be moon dust, specifically from the Apollo 11 landing site, and the part number printed inside of the bag matched up to that of the 'Contingency Lunar Sample Return Decontamination Bag' listed in the Apollo 11 Stowage list," the Sotheby's statement said.

While Sotheby's did not identify the owner, Nancy Lee Carlson was part of a well-publicized legal battle with NASA over the lunar bag, where NASA was ordered in February to return the bag after she purchased it at a government auction for $995, according to the Houston Chronicle.

"NASA is obviously disappointed by the decision of the court due to the fact that it was primarily through the unlawful activity of a third party that put this historical artifact into the public domain," read a statement from William Jeffs, the NASA spokesman for the astromaterials division.

"This artifact was never meant to be owned by an individual. Moreover, this artifact is important, not just for its scientific value, but also because it represents the culmination of a massive national effort involving a generation of Americans, including the astronauts who risked their lives in an effort to accomplish the most significant act humankind has ever achieved."

In 2015, Armstrong's wife Carol found items from her husband's historic 1969 moon landing in a closet at their home in Cincinnati, Allan Needell, a space history curator at the National Air and Space Museum, told Reuters.

Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, died in 2012 and his wife stumbled on the items, including a camera that was mounted in the window of the Eagle lunar module to record the landing and two waist tethers, the wire agency noted.

The legendary astronaut used one of the tethers to support his feet during his rest period on the moon, Needell told Reuters. Those items went on temporary exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum.

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A Neil Armstrong-used lunar sample bag with moon dust still in it will be auctioned off at Sotheby's New York next week in an out-of-this-world auction.
neil armstrong, moon, dust, auction
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2017-16-13
Thursday, 13 Jul 2017 01:16 PM
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