NASA mistakenly sold Apollo 11 moon landing bag in gov’t auction
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officials confirmed last week that they had mistakenly auctioned a bag used by astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission.
The rare artefact, which was used to collect samples of moon rock during the first manned lunar mission back in 1969, was sold as a result of a clerical error, TechTimes reported.
In a government auction held last year, Nancy Carlson from Inverness, Illinois,USA, bought the white bag for just $995 (P46,322). NASA only realised its blunder when the woman sent the bag to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for authentication.
Upon multiple verifications, the space governing body decided to take possession of the artefact—for which Carlson has sued NASA, seeking the return of the bag.
The US government also acknowledged the mistake and described the bag as a “a rare artifact, if not a national treasure.”
The bag in question was part of a collection of priceless items that was seized from the home of Max Ary, director of Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, the report said. He was later found guilty of stealing and selling off a number of the artefacts that were given on loan to the space centre.
Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, have asked the judge to rescind the sale and refund the money Carlson spent, citing that the error occurred due to a mix-up in the historical bag’s identification number.
In Ary’s defense, two separate lunar bags, one used in the 1972 Apollo 17 lunar mission and the other from Apollo 11, assigned the same ID number, which reportedly led to the confusion. He auctioned the 1972 sample bag in 2001 for $24,150 but was later recovered by the government during its investigation.
The unfortunate mix-up is not the first time an iconic moon-landing mission artefact has made its way to wrong hands. Just last year, Neil Armstrong’s widow, Carol, discovered a bag containing various mementos from the Apollo 11 mission—including a camera used to capture the first human landing.
The items were reportedly expected to be left behind in the lunar module on the moon, but Armstrong and his fellow astronauts decided to sneak it back to Earth. Khristian Ibarrola
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