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Apollo 11 flight manual expected to sell for millions at moon landing anniversary auction

Updated 11th July 2019
Credit: Christie's
Apollo 11 flight manual expected to sell for millions at moon landing anniversary auction
Written by Oscar Holland, CNN
This story was written before the auction took place. At the auction, the Apollo 11 flight manual did not sell as the reserve price was not met.
A flight manual from the Apollo 11 lunar module could fetch up to $9 million when it goes on sale next week as part of an auction marking the moon landing's 50th anniversary.
The letter-sized document, which contains procedural notes, checklists and flight records, features extensive handwritten notes by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin -- and would have sat between the two astronauts on the Eagle landing craft, according to auction house Christie's.
It's one of seven items from on board Apollo 11 set to feature at the auction. Other lots include flight plans and a star map. They will be joined by almost 200 other items of space memorabilia, including lunar maps, technical blueprints and signed photographs.
The document is marked with handwritten notes made by the Apollo 11 astronauts.
The document is marked with handwritten notes made by the Apollo 11 astronauts. Credit: Christie's
But it is the manual, officially titled the "Apollo 11 Lunar Module Timeline Book," that is expected to attract the highest bids. Christie's expects the item to sell for between $7 million and $9 million, a valuation that places it "firmly within the realm of the most expensive printed books to sell at auction," according to Christina Geiger, Christie's head of books and manuscripts.
"I've been in the book auction world for almost 20 years," she said in a phone interview. "And, hand on heart, it's the most exciting thing that I've worked with."
Buzz Aldrin photographed by Neil Armstrong in Apollo 11's lunar module during the moon landing mission on July 20, 1969.
Buzz Aldrin photographed by Neil Armstrong in Apollo 11's lunar module during the moon landing mission on July 20, 1969. Credit: Space Frontiers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
For Geiger, it is not only "the most important space exploration document" but one that is unlikely to ever be rivaled. Even if humans were to reach Mars, she said, the digitalization of space travel means an equivalent paper record would never be produced or used.
"It's such a human artifact," she added. "The paper is on different stocks, one of the tabs is even printed upside down and every page that was used by the astronauts has some kind of correction made at (NASA's space center in) Cape Canaveral any time from mid-June up until July 12, which was four days before the launch.
"It has the feel of all the work that went into (the mission), both on the ground and through the real-time annotations by Aldrin and Armstrong."
A flag from Apollo 10 is one of almost 200 items of space travel memorabilia going up for auction.
A flag from Apollo 10 is one of almost 200 items of space travel memorabilia going up for auction. Credit: Christie's
Items from other NASA missions will also be on display, including a flag flown on Apollo 10 (estimated price: $25,000 to $35,0000) and a sun shade component from a lunar module of Apollo 13 ($8,000 to $12,000), which famously aborted its attempt to land on the moon in 1970.
Items expected to attract the largest bids include a brush used to clean dust from camera lenses during the Apollo 14 moon landing in 1971, with a top estimate of $175,000, and a stowage strap, still marked with lunar dust, that flew on Apollo 12 and is expected to fetch up to $90,000.