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NASA Accidentally Sells Moon Landing Bag for $1,000

The US government made a major blooper when it accidentally auctioned off an artefact from the Apollo 11 mission. A clerical error resulted in the sale of the bag used by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to collect samples of moon rock during the first manned lunar mission back in 1969.

According to Nasa officials, the bag was sold off at a government auction last year and bought by Nancy Carlson from Illinois for just $995 (£762). The space agency only realised the mistake when the woman sent the bag back to it for authentication. Nasa then decided to take possession of the artefact – for which Carlson has now launched a lawsuit against the government body.

Apollo 11 was the first mission to successfully land humans on the moon.

The 1969 mission saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spend several hours on the surface gathering more than 20kg of lunar material to return to Earth.

The bag itself still has fragments of lunar debris embedded in its material.

It is not the first time that the bag has been mired in controversy.

In 2005 a director of a Kansas space centre was found guilty of stealing and auctioning space artefacts loaned by NASA.

During the investigation NASA officials found the Apollo 11 lunar bag inside his garage.

The latest mix-up was due to two items in NASA's inventory being given the same identification number, meaning the wrong item was sold.