This July, Christie’s Auction House will open bids for a forty-four-page binder full of space shuttle control guidelines from the Apollo 11 launch, according to Reuters. The former owners — Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin — used it in the 1969 moon landing.
Of course, plenty of spare papers and manuals and other flotsam from the Apollo 11 launch exist, but this piece in particular “is the only one that actually made it to the moon aboard the lunar module, and that had Armstrong and Aldrin’s original handwritten notes in it,” according to Atlas Obscura.
The lunar module timeline book, as it is officially called, contains procedural directions and safety checklists for landing the Eagle on the moon’s surface and was annotated Armstrong and Aldrin during and after the landing. According to Reuters, this manual is technically the first record of writing by a human being on another celestial body. This manual contains the only real-time record of the landing, aside from scratchy audio transmissions.
Christie’s official press release about the auction contains an intricate explanation for why this object is of such historic value:
“The Timeline Book narrates the entire Eagle voyage from inspection, undocking, lunar surface descent and ascent, to the rendezvous with Michael Collins aboard the Command Module in lunar orbit. The book contains nearly 150 annotations and completion checkmarks made in real-time by Aldrin and Armstrong. Traces of what appears to be lunar dust are on the transfer list pages that detail the movement of lunar rock samples and equipment from Eagle to Columbia.”
The description also states that any further trips to the moon will not yield half as many authentic souvenirs since technology will not leave a tangible trace — if you believe books have souls, then this book was the only soul present to witness the lunar landing, apart from Armstrong and Aldrin.
Atlas Obscura interviewed the head of books and manuscripts for Christie’s, who said that her team “counted 150 checkboxes, completion marks, and annotations which are almost exclusively numbers made by Armstrong and Aldrin in real time during the mission.”
Aldrin, who had originally kept the manual after the mission, apparently sold it to an anonymous private collector who is now offering the item through Christie’s. Bids might reach or exceed $9 million after the manual, currently on view in Hong Kong, returns to New York for the auction.
The auction will open on July 18th, just two days shy of the fiftieth anniversary of the manual’s trip to the moon.
Featured Image Via NASA.