A fragment from a recovered rocket, a segment of netting used on the surface of the moon and a chunk of landing gear tire from a space shuttle are among the more than 200 historic NASA artifacts being auctioned this week to benefit a Florida museum devoted to honoring and preserving space history.
The U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum, located near the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida, has organized the charity auction to support its educational programs and exhibits. The money raised from the Saturday (April 2) sale will go toward refreshing the museum's main gallery, which showcases more than 50 years of spaceflight through the memorabilia of the workers who made it happen.
"This is a very unique and special place," said Al Worden, Apollo 15 astronaut, during a recent visit to the museum to promote the upcoming live auction. "It really deserves a lot of everybody's attention." [Giant Leaps: Biggest Milestones of Human Spaceflight]
The U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation was founded in 1988 to emphasize the role that space workers and others had on making the nation's space programs possible. The museum, which opened at its current location (at 308 Pine Street, Titusville) in May 2014, exhibits models, astronauts' spacesuits, workers' tools and the consoles used to launch Atlas rockets and the space shuttle.
The Space Walk of Fame Foundation also established four monuments dedicated to the men and women who worked on NASA's Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs. The landmarks at Space View Park were erected between 1995 and 2012.
The auction, which begins at 12:15 p.m. EDT (1615 GMT) on Saturday, is being conducted online via invaluable.com. Bidders can register and begin placing bids now.
"These items are not from museum property directly," said Worden. "They are all donated, mostly by astronauts, or on consignment."
For Worden's part, he donated an Apollo 15 crew-signed "insurance cover," a stamped envelope that the astronauts autographed before launching for the moon, such that their families could benefit from its sale in the case the mission ended in disaster. With the crew's safe return to Earth, the insurance covers are now a popular collectible.
Apollo 16 moonwalker Charlie Duke donated a swatch of netting that he retained from the lunar module Orion.
"This extraordinary material from my personal lunar artifact collection bears silent witness to mankind's first journey to, and exploration of, the magnificent lunar highlands," Duke wrote in the letter that accompanies the flown material.
Fred Haise, the lunar module pilot on Apollo 13, provided a microfilmed bible that flew on the "successful failure" moon mission. [NASA's Moonwalking Apollo Astronauts: Where Are They Now?]
"Please join us at our auction," said Haise, who served on the Space Walk of Fame Foundation's board of directors. "All of the funds from this auction will support our 501(c)3 not-for-profit's growth of the museum's exhibit hall and the Skywalk Academy education program."
Other donors include Apollo 7's Walt Cunningham, Skylab space station crew members Jack Lousma and Ed Gibson, shuttle pilot Jon McBride and the estate of Wally Schirra, the only astronaut to fly on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
"I would urge you all to take a look," said Worden. "It will really help the program here at the Space Walk of Fame."
Watch a video of Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise talking about the Space Walk of Fame charity auction at collectSPACE.