New York – Sotheby’s is honored to offer property directly from the personal collection of Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin this month in New York, as a highlight of our auction dedicated to Space Exploration on 20 July 2019 – the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
The 11 items consigned by Buzz Aldrin are led by a selection of pages from the Flown Apollo 11 Flight Plan and Flown Apollo 11 Data File – the manuals used by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to guide them on their great adventure, which represent some of the documents most critical to the success of the entire mission. Each such sheet is signed and inscribed by Aldrin and accompanied by a letter of authenticity.
The full Space Exploration auction will open for public exhibition in Sotheby’s New York galleries on 13 July, alongside Omega Speedmaster: To the Moon and Back – an auction dedicated to the official watch of NASA.
Buzz Aldrin commented: “Our mission was a mission for all of mankind. It’s been an honor to look after these documents for the last 50 years, which bore witness to that historic event. As we look forward to the landmark anniversary, I decided that it was time to share them with a new generation of collectors, who can enjoy them for the next 50 years and beyond. I’m thrilled to be working exclusively with Sotheby’s to offer these significant artifacts, at this time.”
Cassandra Hatton, Vice President & Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department, said: “We are very proud to say that with this auction, we are working directly with several of the astronauts who risked their lives in the pursuit of President John F. Kennedy’s ambitious and dramatic goal of sending a man to the moon, and we are especially honored to be the only auction house offering items directly from Buzz Aldrin. Buzz has held on to the most important pages from the Flown FlightPlan and Flown Data File, and it is truly a privilege to be entrusted with these pieces from his treasured personal collection. Furthermore, in an amazing alignment of the stars, three documents from Buzz’s collection happen to correspond directly to other items from other consignors – when examined together, they provide us with a much deeper understanding of the objects and of the mission itself.”
One of the most crucial and potentially life-saving documents aboard the Command Module “Columbia” was the four-page “Mission Rules Summary”from the Flown Apollo 11 Data File, which detailed the steps to be followed in the event of a spacecraft malfunction(estimate $30/50,000). Keeping the crew safe was NASA’s number one priority, thus the present “Mission Rules Summary” was developed to provide the crew with alternate courses of action should they lose control of the spacecraft or experience significant equipment failure. Illustrating the thorough and strategic planning behind every aspect of the Apollo 11 mission, the summary would have helped expedite the crew’s decision-making process in an emergency, allowing them to decide upon the correct course of action as fast as possible.
Included in Aldrin’s collection are both the first and the last pages of the Flown Apollo 11 Flight Plan – the Alpha and Omega of this significant document.
Beginning with the words “LIFTOFF”, the first page details the crucial timeline of tasks to be performed by the crew from the launch through the first two hours of the lunar voyage from moment 0:00, after Mission Control launched the crew into space by the Saturn V Rocket(estimate $30/50,000). Outlined in the plan are instructions for: operating systems and navigation checks, camera install for use while in Earth orbit, and preparations for Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) as well as for Transposition, Docking, and Extraction (TD&E) of the Lunar Module.
[Outside of Aldrin’s collection, the present lot corresponds with the 20 original Apollo Firing Room Control Panels from the Kennedy Space Center Firing Rooms 1 & 3, which launched 8 Apollo missions carried by the Saturn V and Saturn IB rockets, including the three most historic: Apollo 8 (first humans to orbit the moon), Apollo 11 (first humans to land on the moon), and Apollo 17 (last humans to land on the moon), as well as Apollo 4 (unmanned),10, 13, 15, and 16, Skylabs 2, 3, & 4 and ASTP (estimate $200/300,000).]
The final page of the Flown Apollo 11 Flight Plan outlines the timeline of activities to be performed during the final two hours of the mission including jettisoning the Service Module, and re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, travelling at a speed of 36,000 feet per second, before finally splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, where the crew and the Command Module "Columbia" were recovered by the USS Hornet (estimate $25/35,000). The final step on the timeline reads “SPLASHDOWN”, marking the moment when the Apollo 11 crew returned alive, thus successfully completing their mission and fulfilling the goal set by President Kennedy of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."
[Outside of Aldrin’s collection, the present lot corresponds with the Flown Apollo11 Boost Cover Release Port Label, which was salvaged from the Crew Access Hatch of Command Module “Columbia” after it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on July 24th, 1969, splashing down into the North Pacific Ocean(estimate $125/150,000).]
Creating a visual record of their mission was an essential task for the Apollo 11 crew and with thorough and detailed photography they were able to capture lasting documentation of this momentous achievement. To accomplish this, the astronauts followed the “Photographic Timeline” from the Flown Apollo 11 Data File (estimate $15/20,000). The timeline contains details on what activities to photograph and when, as well as instructions for which camera and film magazines to use. Images captured by the cameras include: Earth and lunar photography, the lunar descent, panoramic shots from the LM window, EVA Crew activities including their famous moonwalk, lunar mapping photography, rendezvous, and more.
Outside of Aldrin’s collection, the present lot corresponds with an incredible assemblage of lunar surface artifacts that include the label from Film “Mag S”, used to take the most important lunar surface EVA pictures (and accidentally dropped onto the lunar surface by Neil Armstrong), and what is the first document to be fully handwritten on the lunar surface, written by Buzz Aldrin to explain the contents of the various film magazines used on the mission (estimate $50/70,000).]