A white jacket worn by astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 sold for nearly three million dollars at auction. Several dozen other lots also found takers.
Buzz Aldrin, now 92, is known for executing the world’s first successful spacewalk on the Gemini 12 mission just three years after joining NASA in 1963. He is also known for having been the second man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969 as part of the Apollo 11 mission, about twenty minutes after Neil Armstrong.
However, the tailored fitted jacket that the astronaut wore during this mission was sold at Sotheby’s auction this Tuesday, July 26 in less than nine minutes for 2.7 million dollars. Never has a lot related to space exploration sold for so much. A total of 68 of the 69 lots of the astronaut’s belongings were sold for a total of eight million dollars in just over two hours on the same day.
Other items auctioned included a comprehensive Apollo mission recap flight plan that sold for $819,000 and lifetime passes to Major League baseball games ($7,560). A Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honor for civilians, awarded to Mr. Aldrin by Richard M. Nixon, meanwhile sold for $277,200.
Two unpretentious objects are still looking for takers
Only one set of two items did not sell. These two objects nevertheless played a key role in the progress of the mission. When he was reentering the narrow cockpit of the lunar module in anticipation of takeoff from the lunar surface, Buzz Aldrin inadvertently broke the button of the circuit breaker allowing the arming of the firing of the engine of the stage of ascent (and therefore take-off).
To trigger the firing, it was necessary to be able to push a sufficiently thin object into the hole formerly occupied by the button. About ten hours later, when the take-off imposed the closing of the circuit breaker, Aldrin used the tip of a pen for this purpose. Following this incident, NASA decided that protections would be placed on the circuit breakers for subsequent missions. The agency also added additional checklists to monitor the status of circuit breakers.
The two items that didn’t sell were that famous broken circuit breaker button, and the pen used for take-off.
Other space artifacts, including some belonging to Armstrong, have been auctioned off since the passage in 2012 of a law allowing astronauts to keep and sell their memorabilia from space. Prior to the passage of this law, NASA had repeatedly tried to block sales of such items, such as James Lovell’s checklist of the Apollo 13 expedition.