Welcome to the latest issue of Trading Updates/Cultural Items – FREE Version.
Today we’re digging into a special piece of space history – Buzz Aldrin’s control stick from Apollo 11. It trades 1 July 2021 starting at 0930 EST on Rally.
NASA Apollo 11 Buzz Aldrin Control Stick
What is the asset?
This is the control stick used by Buzz Aldrin during the first mission to the moon. Aldrin was the second human on the lunar surface, descending from the spacecraft several minutes after Neil Armstrong.
Specifically, the asset is a rotational attitude control stick that was positioned to the right of lunar module pilot Aldrin. It was used for making adjustments to the command module’s roll, pitch, and yaw.
This is where it gets interesting…and controversial.
This unit, Armstrong’s stick, and a third unit called a T-handle translational control stick were removed from the command module two months after it splashed down. They were presented to the astronauts as gifts, but the crew refused them. Instead, the handles were stored away in an office safe at NASA HQ for fifteen years.
In 1984, a chap named Bill Whipkey, the head of NASA’s machine shop, discovered the handles when preparing to retire from the administration. Whipkey’s supervisor told him to throw them away, but he took them home instead. He sold them a auction some years later.
This is where it gets a bit sad.
For decades, the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC has featured the Apollo 11 command module, but they’ve had to use replica control sticks. Because Bill Whipkey took the real ones home when he retired.
Fast forward to 2013. The T-handle control stick resurfaced at RR Auction, who was trying to sell it. NASA objected to the sale, asking for time to establish ownership and ultimately get the item back.
According to NASA’s ineffective OIG:”Apart from pursuing legal action to recover an artifact, NASA can also ask the current owner to voluntarily return the property to NASA or request the artifact be donated to a museum with a provision that the individual or family be mentioned in the display or provided other compensation…. [However] NASA has experienced limited success recovering property via these options.”
NASA spent three years trying to get the control stick back with no success.
Which brings us to July 2020. The three items – Aldrin’s and Armstrong’s control sticks and the T-handle translational control stick — resurfaced at Julien’s auctions.
Rally bought Aldrin’s stick, and a second unnamed buyer purchased the other two.
What is the current status of the asset?
Aldrin’s control stick IPO’d at $300k in October 2020 for $300k. It subsequently declined 60% during its first trading window 22nd April 2021.
The control stick remains in storage at a Rally facility.
Valuation and target share price
- Target Share Price: $15+
There have been some successful space-stuff auctions recently, including $137k for an Apollo 11 mission patch via Heritage, a batch of rare photos that sold for well over guide price at Wright20, and this portrait of Aldrin on the moon, which went for 8x guide price at Christie’s.
Growth Outlook and Future Catalysts
Space stuff is having a bit of a moment, and with civilian space travel around the corner (relatively speaking), interest should continue to climb.
This is a great pick up if the share price stays where it is.