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SYFY WIRE Apollo 11

Outbid everyone for the manual Neil Armstrong used to pilot Apollo 11 to the moon

By Benjamin Bullard
Footprint on the lunar surface

Back in the 1960s, NASA literally wrote the book on how to make it to the moon and back — and then proved the concept by handing it to the Apollo 11 crew and telling them to keep it handy after blastoff.

Now that guide — the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Timeline Book — is going up for auction at Christie’s, giving would-be astronauts the chance to pay dearly for the only step-by-step instruction guide that can let them channel their inner Neil Armstrong

Made as a sort of itinerary guide to help remind the Apollo 11 astronauts what step came next in mankind’s history-changing maiden moon voyage, the manual originally “sat precisely between Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot ‘Buzz’ Aldrin as they made the historic landing on the Moon on 20 July 1969,” according to auction house Christie’s.

Part functional document and part space artifact, the well-used guidebook even includes hand-scribbled notes made by the astronauts themselves during critical stages of the journey: Within “moments" of Armstrong setting foot on the lunar surface, “Aldrin had written Eagle’s coordinates in the Sea of Tranquility on page 10 of the book — the first writing by a human being on a celestial body other than Earth,” Christie’s observes.

There’s a chronological story-like quality to the manual’s step-by-step instructions, making it even more valuable as an authentic account of how history’s first manned moon landing unfolded. The guide “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,” according to the auction house.

We’re guessing the bidding on such a significant piece of space history could reach truly stratospheric levels, but if you want to take a crack at investing in the definitive how-to guidebook (at least so far) for manned lunar travel — or simply peruse the many images of what it contains, rocket on over to the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Timeline Book page at Christie’s.