The most prominent item for sale was the Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return bag, which was used by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission to hold some samples gather soon after landing in case there was a problem and they had to leave the Moon in a hurry. The bag material is embedded wit lunar dust. The collectSPACE article recounts the interesting tale of how the bag, which was once sold for $995, ended up on the auction block and sold for $1,812,500.
Some other items also went for significant amounts:
After the lunar sample return bag, the next highest amount commanded by the 173 lots Sotheby’s auctioned Thursday was $275,000 for the flown flight plan used by the crew on the 1970 Apollo 13 mission.
Nice to see that the Chesley Bonestell illustration for a Wernher von Braun book went for $125,000.
Sotheby’s first Space Exploration-themed auction since our two groundbreaking Russian Space History sales in the 1990s. In the intervening decades, the enthusiasm for space exploration has greatly increased, and the collecting field has grown dramatically.
Timed to coincide with the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing on July 20th, there will be a wide variety of material from both the American & Soviet space programs suited for both new and seasoned collectors – from lunar & space photography, flown mission artefacts and hardware, items from the personal collections of astronauts, autographed items, maps & charts, signed books, models, spacesuits, and much more.
The star lot in the sale is the Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return bag (lot 102), used by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission to bring back the very first samples of the moon ever collected. Still containing remnants of lunar dust, this seemingly modest bag has undergone an incredible journey from the Earth to the moon and back, and to us here 48 years later. Due to an error very early on, the bag was misidentified and nearly thrown in the trash, and its true identity remained hidden up until just two years ago when it found its way into a seized assets auction held on behalf of the US Marshall’s Service.
The current owner purchased the bag along with a box full of other space-related odds and ends, and on a hunch, decided to send the bag to NASA for testing. It was determined that not only did the bag contain lunar dust, but it was in fact the very bag used by Neil Armstrong to bring back the contingency lunar sample. A legal battle to determine the rightful ownership of the bag ensued, with the current owner being awarded full ownership and clear title by a Federal judge — making this the only such artifact available for private ownership. We are very pleased to be able to say that it will be on view to the public for the very first time during our exhibition in July.
The Space Walk of Fame Charity Space Memorabilia Auction takes place on Oct. 29. Don’t miss out on this chance to bid on exciting pieces of aerospace history — from photos signed by the Mercury Astronauts to pieces of the Hindenberg to a flown-in-space quilt and SO much more. Over 300 items offered! You can begin bidding NOW at Invaluable.com.
Click HERE to see the auction items and find out how to bid!
Remember that the museum makes a percentage from each sale so you are supporting our STEAM Space education program and helping students and at-risk youth learn about science and technology. Our goal is to move them from away from being passive consumers and TOWARD producing goods, services or digital products.
NO items featured in the memorabilia auction are being sold from the museum collection — these are all consignment pieces or are provided by astronauts or former space workers.
An extraordinary hydraulically powered robot dummy designed for NASA to use in testing space suits, circa 1963–1965, produced by the IIT Research Institute. The life-size dummy could simulate 35 basic human motions and was equipped with torque sensors at each joint to gather data on forces imposed on the human body by a pressurized suit. While a person could qualitatively describe the comfort and restrictions of a certain suit, the articulated dummy could provide direct quantitative information for a more scientific method of refining the design.
Weighing 230 pounds, the dummy was made height adjustable from 5´ 5″ to 6´ 2″ so that it could represent the average American male from the fifth to ninety-fifth percentile. The movements of the robot were enabled by hydraulic actuators powered by oil flowing through a nylon-tube circulatory system, and controlled by the operator from a separate console. The exterior is covered with a 1/32-inch thick aluminum skin with cutaways to allow freedom of motion, and the facial section of the fiberglass head is removable for access to the interior connections. The dummy is missing a forearm and hand, has various scuffs and dings to the body, and some of the wiring is frayed or damaged.
Only two of these robot dummies were produced, and the other is owned by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum; this one was purchased as surplus from the University of Maryland. The ‘Power Driven Articulated Dummy’ project was under Contract No. NAS 9-1370 and ran from May 22, 1963 through July 31, 1965, and is described at length in an official report dated December 14, 1965. The report covers, in great detail, the specifications of the dummy, its various systems, and technical hurdles encountered while creating it.
Although the development team succeeded in creating this impressive android—it could swivel its hips, raise and lower its arms and legs, shrug its shoulders, clench its fists, and even shake hands—the robot was never deployed as intended. The hydraulic system could not handle the pressure needed to move the robot’s extremities without leaking, and despite some creative test solutions—including outfitting it with a scuba wetsuit—the problem was never solved. NASA ultimately dropped the project in order to direct its funding elsewhere. Nevertheless, this remarkable robot stands as a testament to the innovative creativity NASA inspired in its quest skyward. Oversized.
No blinking lights. No complicated electronics. No forgettable plastic toys that end up in garbage dumps.
Instead, we set out with the ambition to create toys loaded with meaning like imagination and simplicity. Toys that are long-lasting in both meaning and quality, so beautiful that kids and grownups will want to keep forever. Classic toys, reinvented. Simple values, restored.