A Piece of the Moon to Be Sold for $1 Million

02 November, 2018, 17:44 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • The pieces- a basalt fragment similar to most of the Earth’s volcanic rock and bits of surface debris known as regolith- are being sold by an unidentified private American collector who purchased them in 1993

Sotheby's auction house in NY will be putting three tiny moon rocks up for bid that were collected by the Soviet Union's robotic Luna 16 lander and returned to the Earth in September 1970. The item is the only known lunar soil samples in private hands with documented provenance. "The sale of this item is exciting for me because I remember when the rocks first came up in 1993 and it was a huge deal, ' Cassandra Hatton of Sotheby's told CollectSpace".

Most other known samples taken from the moon remain with the two entities that collected them: the United States during the Apollo 11-17 missions and the Soviet Union via the unmanned Luna-16, Luna-20, and Luna-24 missions.

An unmanned Soviet spacecraft brought the lunar samples back to Earth in 1970.

The lunar samples were originally presented by the Soviet government to Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, the widow of Sergei Korolev, the "Chief Designer" of the Russian space program.

It was under Korolev's charge that the Soviets had initially leapt ahead of the U.S.A in the "Space Race", as they launched the world's first satellite Sputnik 1 in 1957 and sent Yuri Gagarin into space aboard Vostock 1 in 1961.

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Korolev passed away in 1966 before he could see the fruits of his efforts culminate in the successful lunar landing, but his work paved the way for the future of Soviet space exploration. Last year, Sotheby's fetched $1.8 million for a zippered bag laced with moon dust that was used by USA astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969.

Sotheby's continues: "These samples are subject to laws governing public gifts, and in most cases, as in the United States, the law does not now allow for public gifts to be transferred to an individual".

When the museum owner was prosecuted for stealing artifacts, the bag was sold in a government auction for just $995 without anyone realizing its historic importance or true value.

The lunar samples changed hands during a Sotheby's NY auction in 1993 for US$442,500.

For only the second time in history, someone will be able to purchase pieces of the moon ― legally that is.

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