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Big-Name Space Memorabilia Auction Takes In $1 Million

NEW YORK — An emblem that traveled with U.S. astronauts on the 1969 Apollo moon flight and a checklist from that historic mission were the top-selling items in a sale of space memorabilia, Bonhams auction house said Wednesday.

Nearly 300 space enthusiasts and collectors from 17 countries bid by telephone, Internet or in person in New York on Tuesday. The auction took in $1 million, with 80 percent of the 300 items sold.

"Space memorabilia is something that has broad appeal, and you don't have to be a specialist to be excited about space exploration," said Cassandra Hatton, senior space specialist at Bonhams in New York. "It is something that people dream of when they are kids. A lot of children dreamed of being an astronaut. It is a very personal kind of collecting area."

The Apollo 11 checklist sheet, with data recorded by crew member Buzz Aldrin while on the moon, rocketed past its pre-sale estimate of $45,000 and sold for $68,750. Another top seller was an emblem showing an eagle with an olive branch above the moon's surface that was identical to the ones worn on the spacesuits of the crew. It fetched $62,500, slightly more than the top estimate, and was signed by all three Apollo 11 astronauts — Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins.

An American flag carried by Aldrin into lunar orbit brought in $47,500, double its low estimate, and an Apollo 11 flight plan sheet sold for $37,500.

Another popular item was the Mercury spacesuit. It fetched $43,750, five times its low estimate, after lengthy bidding. The spacesuit was from Project Mercury, which launched the first Americans into space in the early 1960s.

— Patricia Reaney, Reuters