The Pen That Saved Buzz Aldrin and the 'Apollo 11' Crew Is Set to Go to Auction

Buzz Aldrin, moon man.
Buzz Aldrin, moon man. / Heritage Images/GettyImages

The legendary life and career of astronaut Buzz Aldrin is reflected in NASA history, textbooks, and video footage. But if you want a more personalized perspective of Aldrin’s accomplishments, including his Apollo 11 moon mission, Sotheby’s is offering an opportunity to own many of the items that accompanied him to space.

The Buzz Aldrin: American Icon auction, which goes live July 26, will feature 69 items from Aldrin’s personal collection. Sotheby’s describes it as “the most important Space Exploration collection to come to market,” and there’s certainly a convincing case to be made. Among the items are Aldrin’s in-flight jacket worn during the historic Apollo 11 journey. The white coverall is emblazoned with the American flag, Aldrin’s name, and the Apollo 11 insignia. Sotheby’s believes it’s the only flown garment from Apollo 11 available for private ownership. (The others are housed at the National Air and Space Museum.) It’s expected to fetch between $1 million and $2 million.

Buzz Aldrin's Apollo 11 jacket is pictured
Buzz Aldrin's in-flight jacket. / Alexi Rosenfeld/GettyImages

Expected to reach equal value is a pen and circuit breaker lot. A circuit breaker was inadvertently damaged either just before or just after the moonwalk, possibly due to the bulky space suits. The switch activated the engine arm, which was needed to power the craft up and away from the lunar surface. Aldrin jammed a felt-tip pen into the cavity, an act of quick thinking that likely saved the lives of the entire crew. The set could sell for as much as $2 million.

Buzz Aldrin's pen is pictured with a circuit breaker from Apollo 11
The pen that saved a moon mission. / Courtesy of Sotheby's
A Gemini 12 flight plan is pictured
Several of Aldrin's space documents will be up for bid. / Alexi Rosenfeld/GettyImages

Other items from the Apollo 11 and Gemini 12 missions include checklists and other paper documents ($20,000 and up), a fire extinguisher (estimated to sell at or above $12,000), and even the original MTV “Moon Man” Video Music Award ($7000), which was presented to Aldrin in 1984. If you’re in the New York area, you can see the effects on display from now through July 25.

[h/t Artnet]