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Space History for Sale

HISTORY MAKER On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. Here, he poses for a photograph earlier that year in Houston, Texas. AP IMAGES

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. He was commander of NASA’s Apollo 11 lunar mission. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he famously said as he stepped on the moon’s surface.

Armstrong passed away in 2012. But his legacy lives on in the artifacts he collected. Soon, more than 2,000 of them will be for sale. People can purchase them in a series of auctions. The first auctions are set to take place on November 1 and 2. They will continue in May and November 2019.

Mark and Rick Armstrong organized their father’s space collection before putting it up for auction. It includes a U.S. flag that Armstrong took to the moon. And there are pieces of a wing and propeller from the Wright Brothers’ 1903 Flyer, the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft. Armstrong took these pieces to the moon, too.

What did Armstrong hope would happen to his space collection when he passed away? “I don’t think he spent much time thinking about it,” Mark Armstrong said. “He did save all the items, so he obviously felt they were worth saving.”

Mark and Rick turned to a company based in Sarasota, Florida, to help preserve and authenticate their father’s collection. Heritage Auctions, in Dallas, Texas, is helping to sell it.

“Space is one of the very, very few categories that every single person is interested in,” says Heritage Auctions president Greg Rohan. “You show somebody something from the space program, and they are fascinated by it.”

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