Neil Armstrong boot prototype sells for $49K at RR Auction 

The Apollo A7L lunar boot prototype made for astronaut Neil Armstrong sold for $49,000. RR Auction image

BOSTON – A prototype Apollo A7L lunar boot created for Neil Armstrong sold for $49,000 according to Boston-based RR Auction, which concluded the online auction Dec. 13.

The boot was manufactured by International Latex Corp. (ILC) in Dover, Delaware, around late 1968 or early 1969, with inner liner featuring a stitched Beta cloth name-tag marked: “Armstrong.”

The prototype boot measures approximately 8 inches tall, 12.75 inches long, and 5.5 inches wide, and includes its light blue silicon “moon boot” tread.

The construction of the boot consists of the aluminized Mylar insulation layers with gold-tone Kapton tape and liner material bearing a large stitched “R,” characteristics in keeping with the configuration of an Apollo-era lunar boot.

This example is incomplete due to the absence of outer Beta cloth, the Chromel-R fabrics, and the various snaps and straps necessary for secure fitting and closure; this boot was likely intended for a primary flight, backup, or for training activities, but due to ILC’s strict inspection regulations, the boot was rejected for reasons unknown and was never forwarded for final assembly. The missing hardware and Chromel-R fabrics are a telling omission; given the price of Chromel-R material in 1968—$3,000 per yard—it is probable that such material was salvaged and repurposed for another boot.

The presence of the Armstrong name-tag further confirms the likelihood that this prototype was designed and constructed to support the Apollo 11 mission, the only moon-landing mission to involve Armstrong.

Worn by NASA astronauts for Project Apollo, the three manned Skylab flights, and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project between 1968 and the close of the Apollo program in 1975, the A7L suit was the seventh Apollo space suit designed and built by ILC Dover. The A7L suit followed up on the initial designs of the A5L and the A6L suits, which introduced the integrated thermal and micrometeroid cover layer. After the deadly Apollo 1 fire, the suit was upgraded to be fire-resistant and was then given the designation of A7L, with this incomplete ‘overshoe’ representing one of an untold, albeit scarce, number of preliminary versions that led to the final design of the Apollo 11 lunar boot.

“It’s a rare artifact that offers unique insight into the intensive design and quality assurance placed upon the very boot worn by Armstrong over the course of his … journey to become the first human being to set foot on the moon.” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction. “As we near the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 program we will likely see top dollar being paid for related material, Space has traditionally been one of our strongest performing auction categories.”

Highlights from the sale included:

– Steve Jobs signed Macworld magazine that sold for $47,775.

– Robbins medal collection honoring 52 Space Shuttle and Expedition missions, $19,500.

– Soviet Sokol-K space suit, circa 1970s, $9,801.

– Apollo 11 engineer’s manuals sold for $8,931.

– Steve Jobs Apple Computer business card sold for $6,259.

The Science and Technology Auction began Dec. 6 and closed Dec. 13. Details can be found at www.rrauction.com.