Rare moon dust sample from Apollo 11 mission up for auction


(NewsNation) — Only 12 people have ever set foot on the moon, but you can now get your hands on the moon for the right price.

Bonhams Space History is set to hold an auction Wednesday in New York, featuring 20 space relics. But the highlight of the action is stored in five small canisters: dust samples collected during the first mission to the moon, and the price is expected to be astronomical.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” were the famous words of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong. Now, some of the dust he collected from that history-making mission is headed to auction.

“This sample was part of the contingency sample, which was the very first sample that Neil Armstrong collected after he took his first steps on the moon,” said Adam Stackhouse, a space history, science and technology specialist at Bonhams.

Between 1969 and 1972, U.S. astronauts scooped up 22,000 samples of rock, dust and other debris from the moon, but most of it is still held by NASA.

“Lunar samples are property of the U.S. government, property of the people. Because this sold through a government sale, it had fallen into private hands. It’s very unusual,” Stackhouse said.

This particular sample is only a fraction of the original. After it was seized from a space museum, it fell into private hands and then was auctioned off by the U.S. Marshals Service.

In 2017, an amateur geologist in Chicago paid $995 for the moon dust. It sold at auction for $1.8 million. What’s left could fetch another $1.2 million, according to Bonhams.

A portion of the proceeds will go to scientific charities.

The moon dust is so valuable because there’s so little of it on Earth. According to Vox, there’s less than a pound of it worldwide.

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