In a truly standout sale, former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin will auction his personal collection of space exploration-related memorabilia on July 26 at Sotheby’s in New York.
Aldrin, 92, along with Neil Armstrong, was one of the first two people to set foot on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. He served as the lunar module pilot while the late Armstrong was commander of the assignment.
The announcement of the sale comes a day before the 53rd anniversary of the moon landing on July 20, 1969.
Educated at the United States Military Academy at West Point and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aldrin became NASA’s first astronaut with a doctorate when he was selected in 1963. He completed three spacewalks in as a pilot of the Gemini 12 mission in 1966 and as a pilot of the Eagle lunar module of the Apollo 11 mission.
Aldrin’s personal collection includes artifacts that flew with him in space, training equipment, and personal items from his early career.
“This collection is a summary of my career as an astronaut, from my studies at West Point, to my first EVA (extra-vehicular activity) during Gemini XII, to humanity’s first lunar landing on Apollo 11 where we planted the American flag, and a little beyond,” Aldrin said in a statement via Sotheby’s.
“After careful consideration, the time had come to share these objects with the world, which for many are symbols of a historic moment, but for me have always remained personal memories of a life devoted to science and exploring,” he added.
The highlight of the collection is the flight suit jacket worn in 1969 by Aldrin on his trip to the moon and back, with a pre-sale estimate of US$1-2 million. The rare artifact is the only Apollo 11 mission garment available for private ownership, as the suit jackets of Armstrong and command module pilot Michael Collins, as well as the A7L pressure suits of the three crew members , are housed at the Smithsonian, Sotheby’s said.
Another highlight lot includes the circuit breaker switch that nearly ended the lives of the Apollo 11 crew and the pen that saved them, which has a pre-sale estimate of between US$1 million and US$2 million. . As the lunar module ascended from the moon, a motor arming switch broke, putting all three crew members in danger.
Aldrin was quick to use the felt-tip pen he had used to take in-flight notes to solve the problem. The switch and pen were on loan from Aldrin to various museums, including the Museum of Flight in Seattle and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, according to Sotheby’s.
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Also on offer is Aldrin’s hand-stitched “Go Army Beat Navy” banner, which he unveiled during his Gemini XII spacewalks, with an estimate between US$20,000 and $30,000; and the “Original Moonman” statuette presented to Aldrin to commemorate the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984. It is expected to sell for $7,000 to $10,000.
The full contents of Aldrin’s collection will be on public display Thursday through Monday at Sotheby’s Galleries in New York City, ahead of the July 26 auction.