Millions of dollars’ worth of Apollo moon-landing gear is up for auction on eBay

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Apollo 11 astronauts planted a flag on the moon on July 20, 1969.
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NASA

In the market for a helium tank from an Apollo-era spacecraft? How about a bag to collect lunar soil samples? Or an authentic training checklist for launching to the moon?

Welcome to the spectacle that is Sotheby’s first “Space Exploration” live auction, which is being hosted on eBay.

The event kicks off at 11 a.m. EDT on Thursday, July 20 – the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It features 173 lots of space artifacts and memorabilia, which are collectively worth between an estimated $2.9 million and $5.3 million.

Some sellers hope to fetch a premium on rare toys and signed photographs from the Space Race, while others are hawking near-priceless artifacts that could fetch millions of dollars.

One lot that may garner $4 million alone: a dusty bag that Apollo 11 astronauts dumped the first samples of lunar soil, grit, and rocks into in 1969. (The bag was “lost” for decades until the US Marshals Service confiscated it during a raid and later auctioned off – for $995.)

NASA and other groups (including “For All Moon Kind“) admonish the sale of such one-of-a-kind spaceflight objects. “This artifact, we believe, belongs to the American people and should be on display for the public,” NASA said in a statement shortly after a court granted the buyer ownership of the bag.

That said, here are some of the more notable items in Sotheby’s and eBay’s live auction and how much they might sell for.


Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return Bag

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Sotheby’s

Used by Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11 to bring back the very first pieces of the moon ever collected – traces of which remain in the bag. The only such relic available for private ownership.

Estimate: $2 million – $4 million


Gemini G1c spacesuit thermal coverlayer

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Sotheby’s

Thermal coverlayer for the Gemini G1C spacesuit, made for Gus Grissom by the David Clark Company, circa 1962.

Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000


Apollo 13 flown flight plan, with drawings by astronauts (1 of 4)

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Sotheby’s

A book that contains the entire Apollo 13 flight plan, including sketches and notations by astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise.

Estimate: $30,000 – $40,000


Apollo 13 flown flight plan, with drawings by astronauts (2 of 4)

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Sotheby’s

Apollo 13 flown flight plan, with drawings by astronauts (3 of 4)

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Sotheby’s

Apollo 13 flown flight plan, with drawings by astronauts (4 of 4)

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Sotheby’s

Apollo command module reaction-control system propellant tank

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Sotheby’s

A 39.5-inch-diameter empty, ellipsoidal-shaped tank crafted from two joined titanium alloy hemispheres. Manufactured by Sargent Industries for NASA, ca. 1970. Red identifying labels, as well as one paper label.

Estimate: $2,500 – $3,500


Apollo lion brothers crew mission emblems

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Sotheby’s

Cloth crew mission emblems, 12 total with sizes from 3 ½ to 5 inches in diameter. Embroidered by Lion Brothers of Owens Mills, Maryland beginning in 1967.

Estimate: $1,200 – $1,800


Aldrin with the stars and stripes

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Sotheby’s

Color photograph, 8 by 10 inches. Signed by Buzz Aldrin with his inscription of “LMP” added.

Estimate: $1,000 – $1,500


Russian Isayev rocket engine

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Sotheby’s

Unfired V-751 liquid propellant sustainer powerplant, approximately 39-by-14-by-14 inches, constructed from various alloys. Numerous inspection marks, primarily in red. Mounted onto black metal stand, apparently unfired. Russia, circa 1957. Designed by the Design Bureau of Russian rocket engineer Alexei Isayev.

Estimate: $6,000 – $9,000


Vostok-1 spacecraft model

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Sotheby’s

Large 1:8 scale manufacturer’s project presentation model by NPO Energia.

Estimate: $10,000 – $12,000


Space shuttle orbiter computer processor

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Sotheby’s

One of the earliest production models with serial number 04.

Estimate: $5,000 – $7,000


NASA Apollo 11 press release photograph collection (1 of 2)

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Sotheby’s

Contains 10 photos, with four signed by Buzz Aldrin.

Estimate: $2,500 – $3,500


NASA Apollo 11 press release photograph collection (2 of 2)

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Sotheby’s

Mascot of the Apollo 10 lunar module crew, signed

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Sotheby’s

Snoopy Astronaut doll, produced in China by Determined Distributions of San Francisco for United Feature Syndicate, 1969. Plastic and fabric, 10 inches tall. With the original display box.

Estimate: $2,000 – $3,000


Records file on the first flight by USSR citizen cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin

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Sotheby’s

Made on spaceship-Sputnik “Vostok,” April 12, 1961. The official English-language governmental report of one of the greatest moments in human history – signed by Gagarin and others.

Estimate: $50,000 – $80,000


Kennedy Space Center Apollo Saturn launch viewing badges

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Sotheby’s

Issued to flight support personnel, VIPs, guests, and the press corps.

Estimate: $1,200 – $1,800


Flown Apollo 11 flight plan sheet

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Sotheby’s

One of the few sheets describing crew activities while on the moon. Originally from the collection of Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin.

Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000


Flown Apollo 9 altimeter cover

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Sotheby’s

From the collection of Peter Fadis. Command module altimeter cover, aluminum, 2.5 inches in diameter, original velcro square to recto, assembly part number “SEB 33100063-302”, serial number “1006.”

Estimate: $3,000 – $5,000


Buzz Aldrin at Tranquility Base

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Sotheby’s

The Apollo program’s most iconic image. Large color photograph taken by Neil Armstrong of Buzz Aldrin during their Apollo 11 moonwalk. Signed and inscribed by Buzz Aldrin.

Estimate: $3,000 – $5,000


Flown Apollo 11 command module skin fragment

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Sotheby’s

Originally from the collection of Apollo 11 lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin. An approximately 0.5-by-0.5-inch foil segment mounted on a 3-by-8 inch typed note signed by Buzz Aldrin. This foil material served as the thermal protection layer on the very outer surface of command module “Columbia”. It was exposed to the vacuum of space for some 195 hours, including almost 60 hours in lunar orbit, and traveled over 500,000 miles.

Estimate: $1,500 – $2,000


Apollo 11 – Step-by-step plans for surface exploration

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Sotheby’s

Includes the procedure to collect the first lunar soil sample.

Estimate: $6,000 – $8,000


Flown to the moon on Apollo 11: Command module pilot Michael Collins’ crew-signed Apollo 11 emblem

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Sotheby’s

From the collection of Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins. One of the very flew flown Apollo 11 mission artifacts to be signed by Neil Armstrong.

Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000