Neil Armstrong's bag of lunar dust to be sold at auction

The Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return Bag used by astronaut Neil Armstrong is displayed for Sotheby's Space Exploration auction in N

Moon dust that Neil Armstrong collected during the first lunar landing was displayed Thursday at a NY auction house - a symbol of America's glory days in space now valued at $2 million to $4 million. Some of the space merch on offer is, at least by cosmic standards, relatively commonplace stuff: the familiar photo of Buzz Aldrin standing on the Sea of Tranquility, but signed by Buzz himself; a patch from Apollo 11, but one that was actually carried on the spacecraft to the moon and back. Americans were the first ones to set foot on the moon.

Ironically, just three years ago, the Armstrong moon dust bag failed to find a bidder at a U.S. Marshall's service auction. After being lost for years and having been passed from one auction to another, Neil Armstrong's moon dust bag is valued at $2 million to $4 million. Still, that's enough for the Sotheby's appraisers to estimate a $2 million to $4 million sales range for the bag.

Also available for sale at the NY auction house Sotheby's are 180 other items connected to space travel and NASA.

Items include Armstrong's photo of fellow Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the moon, the documented flight plan used by NASA to return to Earth, a photo of astronaut Gene Cernan driving a lunar rover on the moon during Apollo 17 and the Snoopy doll used by Apollo 10 as its mascot. The owner, whose name has not been made public, purchased the treasure and sent it to NASA for testing.

A Snoopy astronaut doll that was used as the mascot for Apollo 10 is also now estimated pre-sale at $2,000 to $3,000.

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But the collection pouch got mixed up with other sample bags that were never used to hold lunar materials, Hull said.

Lunar module pilot Fred Haise, who took part in the Apollo 13 mission in 1970, attended the reception for the sale and gave remarks on his own time in space.

Sotheby's, which will auction the goods on Thursday, said the original objective of the bag was only discovered two years ago, when its current owner bought it as part of an auction of assets seized by the U.S. Marshall's Service. She evidently plans to support her school, Northern Michigan University, as well as various charities from the sale of the bag.

Of course, the first man in space was a Russian and that country's major contribution to space exploration is also acknowledged. He died in 2012 in Ohio.The United States was not the first to venture into outer space.

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