Moon Dust Collected By Neil Armstrong On Apollo 11 Heads To Auction – After NASA Lost Legal Battle To Keep It


Moon mud that astronaut Neil Armstrong collected throughout 1969’s Apollo 11 mission that was man’s first go to to the moon may promote for a seven-figure sum at public sale in April – years after the area company fought in courtroom to maintain the mud out of personal arms.

Key Facts

Armstrong collected the mud as a contingency pattern shortly after he took his first steps on the lunar floor and uttered his now-famous line, “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” public sale home Bonhams stated.

The mud is anticipated to promote for between $800,000 and $1.2 million, in line with Bonhams.

The lunar bag that contained it – and included solely particles of lunar materials left within the bag – was auctioned off in 2017 for $1.8 million.

A portion of the proceeds will go towards scientific charities, Bonham’s stated.

The lunar mud might be offered April 13 as a part of a space-themed public sale that additionally features a fragment of Sputnik 1, the primary area satellite tv for pc ever launched.

Key Background

NASA has confirmed the authenticity of the lunar mud up for public sale, however the area company by no means meant for the pattern to finish up in personal arms. The mud’s vendor, Nancy Lee Carlson, bought what was labeled solely as a “flown zippered lunar sample return bag with lunar dust” for $995 in 2015 at a U.S. Marshal’s public sale. When Carlson despatched the bag to NASA to be taught extra, the area company realized it had Apollo 11 ties and refused to return it, saying the bag belonged to “the American people” and should be put on public display. It’s unclear when NASA lost track of the bag of dust but by 2002, it was in the possession of Max Ary, a space museum co-founder in Kansas who was convicted of selling stolen artifacts. The lunar bag was compounded in 2003 and later put up for sale for restitution at the auction where Carlson purchased it. Carlson sued NASA for wrongful seizure of property, and in 2016 Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled in her favor, writing that Carlson was a “a good faith purchaser” in a legally performed sale.

Crucial Quote

“The surface is fine and powdery, I can kick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers, like powdered charcoal, to the sole and sides of my boots. I only go in a small fraction of an inch, maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine, sandy particles,” Armstrong stated in 1969, describing lunar mud as he walked on the moon.

Big Number

$2.9 million. That’s how a lot a Soviet-era area capsule offered at public sale for in 2011, a worth that continues to be the report for area exploration memorabilia. The capsule was utilized in unmanned exams main as much as the launch of Vostok I, the world’s first spaceship, which took cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into area in 1961.


The personal area ventures of rich businessmen like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson – dubbed the “Billionaire Space Race” – has “stirred up the market” for area materials, Bonham specialist Adam Stackhouse instructed Forbes. Space memorabilia and extraterrestrial supplies like meteorites have picked up in recognition over the previous few years. In 2017, NASA introduced the launch of the Artemis program, which goals to ship one other crewed mission to the moon for the primary time for the reason that Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Further Reading

Nancy Lee Carlson Bought a Piece of the Moon—NASA Really Wants It Back (Wall Street Journal)

The Moon Market: Inside The Multimillion-Dollar Craze For Space And Apollo 11 Collectibles (Forbes)

‘The Loneliest Man In History’ Dies: Astronaut Michael Collins Was The Sole Man On Apollo 11 Who Didn’t Walk On The Moon (Forbes)

Apollo 11’s fiftieth Anniversary: The Facts And Figures Behind The $152 Billion Moon Landing (Forbes)

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