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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Color lithograph; crew, printed signatures inscribed and signed by Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins; 16 by 20 inches sold for $4,320. Photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.
Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the powdery moon’s surface and looked around at the eerie landscape around him.

“Magnificent desolation,” he uttered. The sun-filled plains of the moon’s ‘Sea of Tranquility’ seemed to cover everything. It was a stark beauty.

The American dream of landing a man on the moon had finally come true as the second astronaut, Aldrin, stepped onto its surface. The mission now for the Apollo 11 crew was to coax the moon to give up its secrets.

Sewn to each astronaut’s left gauntlet was a checklist of tasks. Through repeated simulations they knew from memory the order of events.

But they still used the checklists consistently just like professional airline pilots. It didn’t matter how well they thought they remembered.

The checklist was long and time was short. Nearly every second had been accounted for in the schedule.

Their tasks on the moon included measuring “moonquakes”. They also needed to set up bulky equipment that would accurately gauge the distance between earth and the moon.

Core samples were also required. What lay under the dusty moon’s surface was actually more important than what lay on top. A solar wind experiment needed to happen. Rocks were also waiting to be collected.

“We have the problem of a 5-year-old boy in a candy store, Neil Armstrong, the commander said. “There are just too many interesting things to do.”

The two men needed more time to collect and properly label rock samples. But time had run out. The space warriors had to pack up and climb back into the lunar module.

“We did get almost everything done that we had intended to do,” Armstrong said.

The whole world seemed to be watching the Apollo 11 moon landing and space walk unfold on TV. For many, it was the greatest adventure of the 20th century. As of July 20, 1969, the history books would record every detail.

The checklists the two explorers carried were vital documents to the success of the mission. Aldrin’s list had been in his private collection since 1969.

It also sold on March 31 at Swann Galleries, New York, fifth annual Space Exploration auction. The single-sheet checklist brought $31,200.

Nowadays baby boomers are big collectors of space artifacts. This is the generation who were glued to their TV sets as it all unfolded.

A flown item from Apollo 11 would be the highlight of any boomer’s collection.

Space artifacts include objects directly involved with space exploration and especially things that have “flown” in space. These include space suits, pieces of a spacecraft or even moon dust.

If it went up in space, it’s collectible. Authentication is an important “key” in this field. There has got to be a paper trail.

Just like movie stars and sport’s heroes, astronaut autographs are highly collectible. At the same time, unless you see the named penned yourself, there’s no guarantee it’s the real thing.

Here are some current values for other Apollo 11 lots sold in the Space auction.

Apollo 11

Black-and-white Lithograph; of Buzz Aldrin on Moon; taken by Neil Armstrong; also signed by Armstrong; 8 ½ inches by 11 inches approximate; $3,600.

Color lithograph; crew, printed signatures; inscribed and signed by Armstrong, Aldrin and Mike Collins; 16 inches by 20 inches; $4,320.

Flight Plan; single sheet; 8 inches by 10 ½ inches approximate; from Aldrin collection; $11,400.

U.S. Silk Flag; mounted on a 10 inch by 12 inch multi-color NASA certificate that reads: “This flag traveled to the Moon with Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing, July 20, 1969” from Buzz Aldrin collection; $18,000.

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