Buzz Aldrin's moon landing jacket could fetch $2 million at auction
Buzz Aldrin is auctioning off a trove of personal items and historic artifacts from his storied career -- including the jacket he wore during the moon landing.
The only space-flown garment from the Apollo 11 mission still in private hands, the coverall is expected to attract bids of up to $2 million, according to the sale organizer, Sotheby's.
Made from a then-newly developed fireproof material known as Beta Cloth, the jacket is emblazoned with Aldrin's name and the NASA logo. The ones worn by fellow crew members Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins are both now housed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
The garment is among an array of items put up for auction by 92-year-old Aldrin, who in 1969 became the second person ever to set foot on the moon.
Also on sale is the Eagle lunar module's circuit breaker switch, which infamously broke during the mission, threatening to leave Armstrong and Aldrin stranded on the moon's surface. It is being sold alongside the felt-tip pen that the latter improvised with to ignite the engine and return to the orbiting Columbia command module.
The objects also carry a top estimate of $2 million, and were described by Sotheby's -- along with the jacket -- as "among the most significant and valuable space exploration artifacts ever offered at auction."
In a press statement, the Aldrin said that the collection, which dates back to his time as a student at the United States Military Academy, represents the "summation of my career as an astronaut."
"After deep consideration, the time felt right to share these items with the world, which for many are symbols of a historical moment, but for me have always remained personal mementos of a life dedicated to science and exploration," the former astronaut said, adding: "I hope that this collection offers some insight into what it has been like to be Buzz Aldrin."
The sale, which Sotheby's has titled "Buzz Aldrin: American Icon," will take place on July 26, less than a week after the moon landing's 53rd anniversary.
The auction house's global head of science and popular culture, Cassandra Hatton, described the collection as "the reflection of a man of incredible strength and drive, a man who has faced times of adversity with determination and perseverance, and who remained logical and level-headed, even in moments of great peril."
Another notable lot from the Apollo 11 mission is a systems activation checklist, containing diagrams and flight data, which Aldrin was supposed to discard on the moon's surface. Sotheby's estimated that the manuscript will sell for between $150,000 and $250,000.
Elsewhere in the sale is a hand-stitched banner reading "Go Army Beat Navy" -- a reference to the annual Army-Navy football game -- that Aldrin unveiled on spacewalks during 1966's Gemini 12 mission. The item is expected to fetch $20,000 to $30,000.