Sometimes lost in the mystery and wonder around the research and technology that went into the advent of space travel was the fact that those who bravely soared into the heavens were, of course, people. For those on board, missions to space were simultaneously scary and exhilarating, the excitement matched only by the separation from friends and family still on solid ground below.
The extensive amount of equipment and supplies needed to get into space and to return safely dictated that storage on the assorted spacecrafts was at a premium, making the amount of personal items each was allowed to bring along finite and compact. Each was allowed a Personal Preference Kit, a heavy-duty Beta cloth bag measuring 6 by 9 inches, in which astronauts stuffed everything from good-luck charms to family photos. Anything that didnt fit in a PPK stayed behind.
For collectors, astronaut PPKs are coveted treasures, extraordinary because of where they have traveled, and prized because of their rarity; keep in mind, NASA has flown just six missions to the moon none since 1972.
Therefore, it is no surprise that a PPK that flew on the first mission that landed on the moon is among the top attractions in Heritage Auctions
Space Exploration Signature® Auction Dec. 15-16. His Apollo 11-Flown Personal Preference Kit, Signed and Certified by Collins, Directly from His Personal Collection (opening bid: $15,000), is one of the most interesting and rare of all space-flown relics. Collins flew the Apollo 11 command module Columbia on the mission that allowed his crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, to become the first people ever to land on the moon.
Michael Collins stands alongside Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as some of the most important astronauts in the history of space exploration, says Brad Palmer, Director of Space Exploration at Heritage Auctions. They might enjoy a little more celebrity recognition, but Collins is every bit as important. Before Neil Armstrong could take his one giant leap for mankind, he had to get to the moon, and did so because Michael Collins got him there.
PPKs typically are among the most sought-after items from any space program, and considering the significance of this flight the first mission ever to reach the moon this PPK is as important as any in the history of space exploration.
The auction contains not only this PPK, but a couple of exceptionally important relics that likely were inside it when Apollo 11 headed toward space:
An incredibly rare and desirable Apollo 11- and Gemini 10-Flown Largest Size American Flag, Signed and Certified by Michael Collins, Directly from His Personal Collection, CAG Certified and Encapsulated (opening bid: $25,000), is the largest size typically flown by Apollo missions and actually flew with Collins on both Apollo 11 and on Gemini 10. Measuring 17-1/2 by 11-1/2 inches, it was kept as a treasured souvenir by Collins, who signed directly on the flag in black ink: Carried aboard Gemini X. a world altitude record in 1966, and to the moon on the first lunar landing, Apollo XI, July 1969. Michael Collins Gemini X PILOT, APOLLO XI CMP.
An Apollo 11-Flown MS66 NGC Silver Robbins Medallion, Serial Number 32, Directly from the Personal Collection of Michael Collins, with Handwritten and Signed Letter of Certification, CAG Certified (opening bid: $25,000) is one of 440 that flew with Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin aboard Apollo 11, the first manned moon landing. The obverse of this 28mm sterling silver medal depicts Collins' early and original concept for the mission insignia with the eagle carrying an olive branch in its mouth. NASA officials thought the sharp, open talons of the eagle looked too warlike, and had the olive branch, representing peace, moved to the claws. This is one of, if not the only, major official item that renders the insignia as it was meant to be by the astronaut designer. The reverse has the dates of the mission, surnames of the crew, and the serial number.
An Apollo 11-Flown Crew-Signed "Type One" Quarantine Cover, Hand-numbered C-41 and Certified by Michael Collins, Directly from His Personal Collection, CAG Certified and Encapsulated (opening bid: $20,000), one of 214 that existed, is signed in blue ink by the three crewmembers: Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin to the right of the cachet that is stamped NASA Manned Spacecraft Center Stamp Club Official Commemorative Cover of the First Manned Lunar Exploration. Affixed to the cover is a 6-cent Flag stamp with an August 11, 1969, cancellation at Webster, Texas. Stamped beneath the cancellation is the text: Delayed In Quarantine At/ Lunar Receiving Laboratory/ M.S.C. - Houston, Texas. When Apollo 11 splashed down on Earth July 24, the equipment and astronauts from the spacecraft were quarantined. Upon its release, this cover was taken to the nearest post office for cancellation.
An Apollo 11-Flown and Crew-Signed Beta Cloth Mission Insignia Directly from the Personal Collection of Michael Collins, Signed and Certified, CAG Certified and Encapsulated (opening bid: $20,000) features an eagle carrying an olive branch to the moon with the Earth in the distance, designed by Collins. The cloth measures 6 by 6 inches, and the mission insignia has a diameter of 3-3/8 inches. This was flown aboard the Apollo 11 mission to the moon and later signed: Neil Armstrong, Carried to the Moon aboard Apollo XI/ July 1969/ Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.
Other highlights in the auction include, but are not limited to:
An Apollo 14 Lunar Module-Flown Exceedingly Rare Microform King James Bible (opening bid: $20,000+)
An Apollo 15 Lunar Module-Flown Spacecraft Identification Plate Display Originally from the Personal Collection of Lunar Module Pilot Jim Irwin (opening bid: $20,000+)
An Apollo 11-Flown Command Module Pilot Solo Book Page, Signed and Certified by Michael Collins (opening bid: $15,000+)
A Gemini 3 - Gemini 12 Presentation Set of Flown Fliteline Medals (10) in Lucite, One of only 24 Produced, Directly from the Collection of Michael Collins (opening bid: $10,000+)