Apollo 13 Astro’s Emergency Calculations Auctioned for More Than $388K

Astronaut James Lovell (SSPL/Getty Images)

The penciled-in calculations that saved astronaut James Lovell and two crewmates after an oxygen tank exploded during the famous Apollo 13 mission fetched $388,375 at an auction in Dallas.

Lovell wrote the notes on portions of a 70-page checklist, which was obtained directly from him and initially offered for $12,500.

Howard Weinberger, a senior space consultant at Heritage Auctions who has been collecting space artifacts for nearly two decades, told ABCNews.com he wasn’t surprised at the final “hammer price”: $325,000, not including the 19.5 percent auction fee.

“Was I shocked this [checklist] could reach these levels? No, not at all,” said Weinberger.


James Lovell's checklist from the 1970 Apollo 13 mission (Heritage Auctions)


The telephone bidder who bought the checklist Wednesday wished to remain anonymous.

“We do know it’s an American,” Weinberger said.

The auction featuring 214 space artifacts attracted a total of 466 bidders from around the world, Weinberger said.  The checklist pulled in the highest price.

Lovell’s 1970 space flight, one of the best-known in NASA’s history, was slated to land him and fellow astronaut Fred Haise on the moon. But on the third day of  the mission, an oxygen tank exploded. The Command Module — which housed the astronauts and their computer guidance system — quickly lost power, air and water.  More than 200,000 miles from Earth, the astronauts were forced to use the Lunar Module as their “lifeboat,” a dramatic series of events captured in  the film ”Apollo 13.”

Lovell did some quick calculations two hours after the explosion, then asked Houston to check his math. Mission control confirmed his calculations were correct, and he entered them into the Lunar Module guidance computer.

Weinberger said the market for space memorabilia hasn’t yet matured, but is continuing to develop.

“It’s on its way because more and more people are finding out they can own pieces of memorabilia,” he said.


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