Despite it happening more than a half-century ago, mankind’s greatest achievement arguably remains the Apollo 11 moon landing. The idea that people were able to send human beings to the surface of the moon and return them safely using technology available in 1969 is astounding, and it remains a source of inspiration and wonder today. Now, you have the chance to own a piece of this historic moment, as Bonhams is auctioning off the first lunar sample ever collected by humankind.
The lunar sample is the star lot from Bonham’s upcoming (and aptly titled) “Space History Featuring the First Lunar Sample” auction, and it’s quite the specimen. Declared to be the only Apollo lunar sample that can legally be sold, the lot consists of five Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) aluminum sample stubs. Each sample stub is topped with a layer of carbon tape containing actual lunar dust from the surface of the moon. Further adding to the historical significance of this lot is the fact that four of the five samples contain dust that was gathered by Neil Armstrong himself — the first person to walk on the moon — during the Apollo 11 mission on July 21, 1969.
This dust in particular was obtained from NASA’s Apollo 11 Contingency Sample Return Container Decontamination Bag, which contained the Teflon bag full of lunar samples that Armstrong had gathered. Essentially, the auctioned-off particles are the scraps that transferred from the official sample bag to the decontamination unit. The decontamination bag was lost by NASA at some point following its return to Earth, and it eventually made its way into the hands of a collector, who sent it to NASA for testing. There, NASA scientists removed all lunar particles from the bag using carbon tape, and after a legal battle, the government body was forced to return five of the six samples it took to the bag’s owner — which is how those samples are now legally being made available to the public.
The First Lunar Sample Collected by Humanity will be sold at Bonhams’ “Space History” auction in New York on April 13, where it is expected to fetch between $800,000 and $1.2 million.
HiConsumption is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more