Moon dust collection bag from Apollo 11 auctions for $1.8 million

A misplaced bag containing moon dust from the Apollo 11 mission sold at auction for $1.8 million.
By Kathy Fey | Jul 22, 2017
A bag of moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission sold at auction for $1.8 million.

According to Phys.Org, the Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return Bag, as the item is officially known, contained the first sample ever collected from the moon's surface.

The outer decontamination bag, which still holds traces of moon dust, sold on the 1969 moon landing's 48th anniversary. The bag was sold to an anonymous buyer after a five-minute bidding war.

The bag is made of the same type of flame-retardant material as space suits. Auctioneer Joe Dunning described the item as "an exceptionally rare artifact from mankind's greatest achievement."

The sample bag is the only known artifact from the Apollo 11 mission that is privately owned. After the Apollo 11 mission completed, an inventory error caused the bag to be held back from its intended delivery to the Smithsonian museum.

The bag was left in a box at Johnson Space Center and would have been disposed of had it not been noticed by a collector from a space museum in Kansas.

The museum collector had the bag until the FBI seized it along with other museum-held items after the collector had been convicted of theft and financial crimes.

The bag was offered up at auction four times before being bought by an Illinois lawyer in 2015 for $995.

The new owner sent the bag to NASA for testing. NASA confirmed in 2016 that the bag was from the Apollo 11 mission and contained traces of lunar dust.

A federal judge ruled that the bag be returned to the lawyer, who offered it for sale in the auction where the bag ended up with its $1.8 million price tag.

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