Air & Space Smithsonian - - I Was There - BY RACHEL MANTEUFFEL

NEIL ARM­STRONG IS DEAD, but you can buy his breath on ebay. For the price of a used car, you can own five tiny bot­tles of wa­ter drained from the re­turn­ing mod­ules of Apollo 11 and 12, in­clud­ing one of con­den­sa­tion from as­tro­nauts’ ex­ha­la­tions. It’s the one marked “Waste Tank.”

Now, any­one with money to spend and an In­ter­net con­nec­tion can join the ranks of col­lec­tors of early space pro­gram ar­ti­facts. Robert Pearl­man’s web­site col­lectspace is es­pe­cially use­ful, keep­ing tabs on what’s for sale where and help­ing fer­ret out frauds on auc­tion house web­sites. You can ask fel­low col­lec­tors/his­to­ri­ans for guid­ance, and hear from those who used—or made—your ob­ject.

The same In­ter­net that makes it eas­ier to ac­quire rare ob­jects also en­ables long­time col­lec­tors to share their trea­sures with the pub­lic, in dig­i­tal closeup. A thorny le­gal ques­tion—can you own bits of space- craft NASA never for­mally de-ac­ces­sioned?—has been re­solved by a 2012 law in which Congress, per­haps re­luc­tant to in­crease NASA’S le­gal bud­get, al­lowed Apollo-era as­tro­nauts to sell ob­jects they kept as me­men­tos.

The way the mar­ket has ex­ploded frus­trates long­time col­lec­tors like Richard Jurek, co-au­thor (with fel­low Apollo ephemera pack rat David Meer­man Scott) of the book , and the

Mar­ket­ing the Moon pro­pri­etor of the web­site Jef­fer­son Space Mu­seum ( ), where he shows off his

jef­fer­son­space­mu­ col­lec­tion of space-flown $2 bills. In the two decades he’s been chas­ing Apollo ar­ti­facts, he’s seen prices jump into the strato­sphere.

But per­haps there’s an up­side: More money means more at­ten­tion, more ob­jects get­ting dug out of base­ments and ex­am­ined se­ri­ously, more re­search, and more his­tory col­lected. To wit:

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