Moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong is up for auction. Expected revenue is around €1 million
Buyer receives a test kit containing five samples, four of which contain a strip with grains of moon dust. This dust was originally collected by Armstrong as a backup in case other lunar samples from the Apollo missions go wrong. And it now ends under the hammer by a great bend, Bonhams writes in Basic information about the auction†
The dust comes from the bag that was around the bag in which Armstrong collected more than a kilogram of moon dust. Since moon dust is known to be sticky, it later stuck to this outer pocket as well.
This bag, which was lost by NASA, ended up in the Kososphere Space Museum in the US state of Kansas. A former secretary took it secretly. After this curator was convicted of illegally selling museum property, the bag ended up in an auction to US Marshals, who are part of the US Federal Police. There it was sold to a new owner for $995 (€915).
The original Apollo 11 bag
The new owner then had the bag tested by NASA, after which scientists determined that it was indeed the original Apollo 11 bag containing moon dust. NASA believed that the dust bag should remain in the public domain, so the organization filed a lawsuit claiming that it never gave up the bag and therefore still has title to it. NASA lost the case.
The bag itself, in which there was no moon dust after analysis, was sold by the new owner at auction for $1.8 million (1.7 million euros). Bonhams estimates the value of the dust samples now on display, which were placed under a so-called electron microscope during NASA’s analysis and were only later returned, at between 735 thousand and 1.1 million euros.
At auction on Thursday, the auction house will also be displaying more cool items from the history of space travel, including small part of The Russian Sputnik 1 mission, which launched the first man-made satellite into orbit in 1957.
The part that will be auctioned on Wednesday, a piece of aluminum with drill holes, was not attached to the satellite itself. It burned up in Earth’s atmosphere upon return in 1958. It is part of the Sputnik-PS rocket, which carried the satellite into space. The first stage of this stuff returned to Earth after launch, after which a co-engineer took this part with him as a souvenir. The auction house estimates the current value at 74 to 110 thousand euros.
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