A jacket worn by one of the world’s most famous astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, during the Apollo 11 lunar landing of 1969 was sold at auction this month – fetching nearly $3 million dollars.
Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 Jacket Sells for $2.77 million at Sotheby’s
Earlier this month, Sotheby’s US branch presented a very special lot at auction: the jacket worn by Buzz Aldrin during his mission to the moon in 1969. The jacket, which came directly from the personal collection of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot, was sold for $2.77 million.
Worn by Buzz for the majority of his mission (not including his time on the moon’s surface, for which he changed into a pressure suit), the jacket was the only flown garment from Apollo 11 made available for private ownership. The other flown Inflight Coverall Garments (ICGs) from the mission are currently housed in the National Air & Space Museum Collections in the States.
The lot came with a signed provenance letter from the former astronaut, which reads:
On July 16th, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and I lifted off from Pad 39A at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on our journey to perform humankind’s manned lunar mission, landing the Lunar Module Eagle in the Sea of Tranquility, and spending 21 hours, 36 minutes on the lunar surface.
I wore this Inflight Coverall Jacket, Part number BW-1060-002, serial number 1039 in the Command Module Columbia, on our historic journey to the Moon and back home again during the Apollo 11 mission. The jacket was part of a complete Inflight Coverall Garment (ICG) that included the present jacket, trousers, and a pair of boots custom made for each crew member. Until the tragic Apollo 1 fire in 1967, spacesuits and inflight gear were crafted from highly flammable materials, such as nylon. The fire triggered a review of the suit’s design, which resulted in modifications including the development of a new, fire-proof material known as Beta Cloth. Beta Cloth, which is a Teflon-coated silica fiber cloth very similar to fiberglass, is the same material that was used for the A7L spacesuits that we used for our historic moonwalk.
During launch, and while on the Moon, we wore our full pressure garments, however we spent the majority of the mission in our much more comfortable ICGs, donning them both for our 3-day journey to the Moon, as well as the 3 day trip back.
The ICG jacket is equipped with reinforced holes on the upper torso through which the medical connectors could pass, and snap closures at the wrist and down the front. A manufacturer’s tag on the inside, as well as my name on the outside, identify this jacket as mine. It bears a flag of the United States of America on the left shoulder, a NASA “meatball” at front right, and the Apollo 11 mission emblem at front left.
This jacket has been in my private collection since we returned home from the Moon on July 24, 1969. On the inside it bears a manufacturer’s tag, which reads: “Coverall, Jacket / BW-1060-002 / Size: ML S/N: 1039 / Subject: Aldrin / Contract No.: NAS 9-8309 / Date of Mfg.: 12-18-68 / Mfg. By: B. Welson Co.,” and is documented on pages 12 & 92 of the Apollo 11 Stowage List¸ as well as in several places on the Apollo 11 Apollo Spacecraft Hardware Utilization Request (ASHUR).
You can see Buzz wearing the jacket above during his time on the lunar landing mission. Made from beta cloth (a fireproof material added to the design after the 1967 Apollo 1 fire), the jacket features Buzz’s name embroidered on the left side above the mission emblem. A US flag can be seen on the left shoulder, and on the right breast sits the NASA logo. The jacket was manufactured by B. Welson Co. in the US in 1968.
In a statement provided before the auction, Aldrin commented: ‘This collection is a summation of my career as an astronaut, from my studies at West Point, to my first EVA during Gemini XII, to humankind’s first lunar landing on Apollo 11 where we planted the American flag, and a bit beyond. After deep consideration, the time felt right to share these items with the world, which for many are symbols of a historical moment, but for me have always remained personal mementos of a life dedicated to science and exploration. From the jacket that I wore on my trip to the Moon and back, to the famous broken circuit breaker switch that nearly ended our lives, and the pen that saved us, to various artifacts we used to complete the mission, I hope that this collection offers some insight into what it has been like to be Buzz Aldrin.’
Sotheby’s commented that the lot was ‘the most important space exploration collection to come to market’, with the sale breaking the record for the most valuable American space artifact ever sold at auction and the most valuable jacket ever sold at auction. The jacket was part of a larger auction celebrating the life and career of Buzz Aldrin, which in total raised $8.2 million.
SEE THE LOT
While you may have missed the sale, you can still see the lot on sothebys.com
Featured image: NASA, Unsplash