"Their lunar sample curator tested it and found that it was not only a lunar material but in fact dust from the Apollo 11 mission and then further research showed that the bag was, in fact, the bag that Neil Armstrong used to bring back that very first sample on Apollo 11". Still, that's enough for the Sotheby's appraisers to estimate a $2 million to $4 million sales range for the bag.
"Hello? Can you hear me?"
The bag of moon dust is owned by Chicago-area lawyer Nancy Lee Carlson, after it was mistakenly sold on a government website for $995 (£769). Americans were the first ones to set foot on the moon.
She sent the bag to NASA for authentication, and when tests revealed it was used by Armstrong and still had moon dust traces inside, the US space agency chose to keep it.
It's one of 180 lots linked to space travel that Sotheby's is auctioning off July 20 to mark the 48th anniversary of the pioneer lunar landing on that date in 1969. Cassandra Hatton, the specialist for the sale, said: "This seemingly modest bag was part of mankind's greatest journey, and played a crucial role in the single most important scientific task of the Apollo 11 mission - to bring back the very first sample of lunar material ever collected". The current owner, whose name has not been made public, bought the treasure and chose to send it to NASA for testing.
Astronaut Neil Armstrong did something no one had ever done before.
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McMurray said there had been no agreement in place for a payout if Shelby stayed in the desk job for a certain amount of time. Prior to returning to work, Shelby had been on unpaid leave since September 22, when prosecutors charged her.
Other highlights include two sheets from the "Apollo 11 flown flight plan", one which contains extensive mission notes by both Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on their last full day in space before their planned return to Earth ($25,000-$35,000); and a crew-signed Apollo 11 emblem flown to the moon by command module pilot Michael Collins ($40,000-$60,000). Numerous Apollo 13 artifacts are offered in Sotheby's sale, including the booklet of flight plans used by Haise's crew onboard (lot 140).
Somehow the bag ended up in the garage of a Kansas museum manager until it was ceased by U.S. Marshals Service.
Carlson successfully sued NASA to get the bag back, and the attention created by her legal challenge prompted many inquiries from potential buyers, according to Sotheby's.
Of course, the first man in space was a Russian and that country's major contribution to space exploration is also acknowledged.
The first human to venture into outer space was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who orbited Earth in a spacecraft in April 1961.