December 1, 2023

What a treasure trove for collectors! New Jersey native Buzz Aldrin, one of the first humans to ever walk on the moon, held an auction of all sorts of memorabilia from his time as an astronaut, including items that made the historic journey with him. The auction was conducted by Sotheby’s.

Some of the items fetched quite a bit of money, too. For example, his flown Inflight Coverall Jacket, worn by him on his mission to the moon and back during Apollo 11 went for $2.7725 million:

Flown to and Used on the Lunar Surface: the broken circuit breaker switch that nearly ended the lives of the Apollo 11 Crew, & the pen that saved them

Lunar surface flown Apollo 11 LM Systems Activation Checklist; it sold for $567,000

The flown flight plan — A Complete Summary of the Entire Mission, From Launch to Splashdown sold for $819,000

Aldrin was the lunar module pilot on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that was the first manned craft to land on the moon. Mission Commander Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon and Aldrin the second.

He was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, in 1930. He attended Montclair High School and upon graduating received an appointment to West Point, where he graduated third in his class.

He earned a doctorate degree from MIT in astronautics and was selected for NASA’s Astronaut Group 3. He was rejected in his first attempt to become an astronaut but was accepted in the next round of selections. He successfully completed his mission aboard Gemini 12, performing “extravehicular activity,” going outside the spacecraft. He was then assigned to the Apollo program.

After his career in space, he became the commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. He ultimately retired as a colonel.

He wrote in his autobiography that he suffered from depression and alcoholism in his post-space life. At one time, he sold cars in Beverly Hills but he said he was a “terrible salesman.” He eventually sobered up and became a public speaker.

In 2002 (at age 72), he famously punched out a man who claimed that the moon landing was staged. He has traveled to both the North and South poles but had to be airlifted from the South Pole when, at age 86, he fell ill during the expedition.

He was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2008.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle only.

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