A decontamination bag used during the historic Apollo 11 mission will soon be up for auction as part of a new Sotheby’s sale collection. The auction house released a statement presenting this space artifact and also how it came to be up for purchase.
Apollo 11 Decontamination Bag: Lost but Now Found
According to Sotheby’s, this seemingly plain white pouch was used by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission. It was utilized for collecting and storing samples of lunar dust and also some pieces of rock.
The press release states “Given the then unknown nature of lunar material, this decontamination bag was used to minimize any potential harm the samples might pose to the Command Module and planet Earth.”
After having been brought back to Earth, emptied, and examined, the decontamination bag was somehow misplaced. Then, it resurfaced in a private collection which went up for sale at a small auction house. After failing to attract attention, the white pouch was eventually purchased by its current owner.
Nancy Carlson bought it for $995 back in 2015 at an auction held by the U.S. Marshals Service. Interested in its history and looking to determine the nature of the dust inside it, she sent the bag to NASA.
Tests revealed that the decontamination bag still contained some moon dust. Its serial numbers also showed that it was, in fact, the white pouch used during the historic mission. Its numbers corresponded to the “Contingency Lunar Sample Decontamination Bag” from the Apollo 11 Stowage list.
NASA tried recovering the back, but after a lengthy legal trial, a judge ruled in favor of Carlson and named her the legal owner. Now, she will be selling this piece of space history as part of the “Space Exploration” sale.
This will be taking place in New York City, at Sotheby’s, on July 20th or the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission’s moon landing. The decontamination bag is expected to sell for anything in between $2 million to $4 million. Nancy Carlson stated that she would be giving a portion of the sale proceeds to charities.
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