Soviet-Era Moon Fragments Could Reach $1 Million at NY Auction

Mindy Sparks
November 2, 2018

2019 will mark the 50th anniversary that of the Apollo 11 mission when USA astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, became the first men to walk on the Moon. The item is the only known lunar soil samples in private hands with documented provenance.

They were given to Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, widow of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, the head rocket engineer in the Soviet space program during the 1950s, Sotheby's said on its website. "The sale of this item is exciting for me because I remember when the rocks first came up in 1993 and it was a huge deal, ' Cassandra Hatton of Sotheby's told CollectSpace".

Sotheby's auction house in NY will be putting three tiny moon rocks up for bid that were collected by the Soviet Union's robotic Luna 16 lander and returned to the Earth in September 1970.

Previously sold by Sotheby's in 1993 for $445,000, the Moon fragments are estimated to be worth between $700,000 and $1 million and are the only fragments of the satellite that can be sold legally. This soil sample isn't from NASA, but from Russian Federation.

It is extremely rare for authentic lunar samples to come to auction, as they generally belong to government entities.


The spacecraft brought back about 100g of lunar rock and dust from Mare Fecunditatis. The Russian artifacts were obtained by the Soviet Union via the unmanned Luna-16, Luna-20, and Luna-24 missions.

Luna 16 was also the first probe to land in darkness. The high price is due to the rarity of lunar soil samples.

A number of other countries were gifted with Apollo 11 samples and Apollo 17 goodwill moon rocks on behalf on the Nixon administration, and in most places the law bars transferring such gifts to individuals. The buyer, who remains anonymous, has owned the samples, which are encased under glass below an adjustable lens and labeled "ЧАСТИЦЫ ГРУНТА ЛУНЫ-16" (Soil Particles from Luna-16), for the past 25 years.

The particles being auctioned were retrieved by Luna-16, which drilled a hole in the moon's surface to a depth of 35 centimeters to extract a core sample. Tests show that they contain more than 70 elements and are dated approximately 3.4 billion years old.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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