Moon landing: Sotheby’s auctioning Apollo 11, space-travel relicsJuly 17, 2019
The only surviving first-generation tapes of the Apollo 11 Moon landing are expected to fetch a seven-figure sum when they go up for auction on Saturday at Sotheby’s — but they’re far from the only Space Age relics hitting the block.
Also up for grabs is a component called a boost cover release label scavenged from the Columbia Command Module flown on the fateful 1969 mission.
The item, expected to haul in between $125,000 and $150,000, sat on the outside of the capsule throughout its trip — and it shows, bearing “burn-marks resulting from re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere,” according to its Sotheby’s listing.
For a projected $200,000 to $300,000, you can take home a lot of 20 computer panels used to launch several missions, including Apollo 11, from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The panels also kicked off trips including the ill-fated Apollo 13, as well as several Skylab flights, according to the auction house.
Beyond Apollo 11, bidders can vie for a grim reminder of manned space exploration’s dangers: The helmet worn by tragic Apollo 1 astronaut Roger Chaffee when a rehearsal for that flight burst into flames on a launchpad in 1967, killing him as well as fellow pioneers Gus Grissom and Ed White.
The helmet, believed to be the only piece of Chaffee’s spacesuit to survive the fatal blaze, is expected to command between $125,000 and $150,000.
The most coveted lot up for bidding, however, is a trio of videotape reels containing the only first-generation footage showing the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and the subsequent moonwalk of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
The video that had millions around the globe glued to their television screens on July 20, 1969, was not a direct feed from the Moon, but rather sourced from a TV camera pointed at a monitor in Houston’s Mission Control.
The tapes, therefore, show the mission in a level of detail and quality few eyes have ever seen, according to Sotheby’s.
They were first bought by a NASA intern along with more than a thousand other reels for $218 at a government surplus auction in 1976, but are now expected to sell for between $1 million and $2 million.
The 218-lot auction, taking place in two parts on Saturday’s 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, also features a trove of schematics, spacesuit-components and other out-of-this-world memorabilia.
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