Apollo 13 Memorabilia: Five Valuable Items



2015-06-26 10:06:47

The fate of the Apollo 13 lunar mission gripped the world back in April 1970, as an exploding oxygen tank left the crew in peril. Having aborted their mission to the moon, the three astronauts - Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert - used their ingenuity and bravery to make it back home in a crippled ship. Here are five of the most valuable items of space-flown memorabilia from the mission.


U.S flag

(Image: Bonhams)

This small United States flag was stowed inside Fred Haise's Lunar Module Personal Preference Kit, and was due to be flown to the lunar surface during the Apollo 13 mission. However, having been flown around the moon, the flag – and everything else on board – returned to Earth following the oxygen tank explosion which aborted their mission. Having remained in Haise's own collection for decades, the space-flown flag sold at Bonhams in 2012 for $27,500.

Most extensive burn notes

(Image: Bonhams)

Jim Lovell used this sheet to record critical spacecraft attitude procedures, during the Apollo 13 crew's dangerous return to Earth. These hand-written calculations enabled to crew to perform Mid-Course Correction burn number 5, which allowed them to then prepare for their re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. As the longest set of in-flight notes made by Lovell on a single page throughout his burn-notes, this sheet sold at Bonhams in 2013 for $84,100.

Astronaut sunglasses

(Image: Bonhams)

This pair of standard-issue military sunglasses was worn by Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13, to aid against the glare of sunlight coming through the spacecraft windows. They were sold from Haise's personal collection of memorabilia at Bonhams in 2009 for $18,300.

Final engine burn notes

(Image: Bonhams)

This sheet of notes contains the steps used by Jim Lovell and Fred Haise for the final descent engine burn of the mission, used to correct their course during their emergency return to Earth. The 15-second burn of the Lunar Module's descent engine helped refine their flight path angle as they entered the Earth's atmosphere prior to landing. The space-flown notes sold at Bonhams in 2011 for $111,020.

Jim Lovell's checklist

(Image: Heritage Auctions)

Two hours after Apollo 13's oxygen tank exploded, Commander Jim Lovell made these handwritten calculations to ensure the crew would not head off course as they attempted to return to earth in a crippled ship. This Lunar Module Systems Activation Checklist remained in his personal collection for over 40 years, before selling at Heritage Auctions in 2011 for a record $388,375. It was the highest price ever paid for a piece of Apollo memorabilia that wasn't flown to the lunar surface.

However, the sale was then halted by when NASA questioned Lovell's ownership of the checklist, and legally challenged his right to sell it at auction. NASA then launched a series of suits against former astronauts looking to sell memorabilia, prompting a change in the law. In September 2012 a new bill was passed giving Mercury, Gemini and Apollo crew members "full ownership rights" to the artefacts they kept following their missions. 

Share on social media
Write a response...

The bookmarklet lets you save things you find to your collections.

Note: Make sure your bookmarks are visible.


Click and drag the Collect It button to your browser's Bookmark Bar.

collect it