Astronaut Sells Apollo 15 Hand Controller for $610,000+ at Auction

Imagine that you are an astronaut, and after flying to the moon, you make it safely home. What kind of SWAG do you give a guy who completed a safe lunar mission? Why not the hand controller from his Apollo 15 flight? How much would something like that be worth? Astronaut Dave Scott just found out.

FALCON1_Apollo 15

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Astronaut Dave Scott just sold three items from his personal collection, and those items brought in a combined total of more than three-quarters of a million dollars. No, really. The hand controller alone brought in $610,063, most likely because it was the actual “rotational hand controller to safely bring the Lunar Module Falcon safely down on the Moon’s surface in 1971.

Prior to landing— the Flight Director in Mission Control had learned that tracking data indicated they were going to land 3000 feet south of the targeted landing site. Using scribe marks on the window and angles read aloud to him by Jim Irwin, Scott found where the computer was predicting the landing site to be and then used the hand controller— flying manually, to the correct location. “There are space artifacts that need to be explained as to their original use, and then there are items like the Apollo 15 rotational hand controller that simply upon sight are self-evident as to their purpose,” said Robert Pearlman, Editor and Founder of the space history website   “We all can imagine what it must have been like to land on the moon, but to have the chance to grab hold of the very joystick that accomplished that feat is a priceless experience — and at the same time, worth every bit of the more than half a million dollars it commanded at auction.” Located on the left side of the cabin interior, this controller was used by Commander Scott during the landing of the Lunar, as well as piloting the ascent stage to rendezvous with Command Module for their trip home. The spring-loaded hand controller remains quite tight and returns to neutral, and was used to control pitch, roll, and yaw while maneuvering to and from the lunar surface. The communications trigger switch is also present, and a screw on the front of the housing retains one of its wax tamper seals.

Dave Scott also auctioned off these items from his personal collection:

  • Flown Crewman Optical Alignment Sight (COAS), flown to the surface of the moon on board the Apollo 15, sold for $126,179.
  • Highly coveted flown Apollo 11 Robbins Medal, sold for $38,069.

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There were a few other pieces of astronaut SWAG offered at the auction:

  • Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11, NASA-issued lunar ‘comfort’ glove worn at Tranquility Base during the first lunar landing, sold for $61,212.
  • A backpack strap from Charles Conrad’s PLSS (Personal Life Support System), used on the lunar surface during both of his moonwalks during the Apollo 12 mission, sold for $52,649.
  • Flag carried on the lunar surface for over 18 hours on Apollo 15, sold for $27,741.

Obviously I’ve been approaching this all wrong, because when I have spare SWAG, I always give it away to someone who needs or wants it. I guess those astronauts need to pad their retirement accounts and want to make sure they can afford more time on the gold course. =P You can learn more about the auction by clicking here.

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.