Friday, 21 July 2017

The long-lost bag used by NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong to collect the first-ever moon samples has been sold for a whopping US $1,812,500 at an auction in the US. The bag, auctioned on the occasion of the 48th anniversary of mankind's first moon landing, was expected to fetch an amount between US $2-4 million. It still contains traces of the moon dust, Sotheby's said. 

 During the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, Mr Armstrong collected nearly 500 grammes of material finer than one centimetre, as well as 12 rock fragments larger than a centimetre from five different locations on the lunar surface in the region known as the Sea of Tranquility. 

 Given the then unknown nature of lunar material, the decontamination bag was used to minimise any potential harm the samples might pose to the Command Module and planet Earth. Nearly all of the equipment from that historic mission is housed in the US National Collections at the Smithsonian; however a recent court ruling has allowed this to be the only such artefact in private hands.

 It was re-listed in 2015, where it was sold for US $995. Scientific tests at NASA 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 historic price was the culmination of a week-long exhibition that captured the attention of thousands.

 "Reflecting the enduring and universal fascination with space, the US $1.8 million achieved for the Apollo 11 lunar sample bag and strong prices for objects related to other missions were driven by over 500 participants from dozens of countries with many buyers new to Sotheby's," said Cassandra Hatton,
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