Apollo 11 relic owned by Illinois woman to be auctioned off

The Apollo 11 bag with moon dust inside is now up for auction.

When the bag returned to Earth, the USA government emptied it of its contents and dubbed it a national treasure.

Shortly after Neil Armstrong took "one giant leap for mankind" by stepping on the surface of the moon, he did what any tourist does: He collected a souvenir.

It's not stardust, but moondust that an IL woman is hoping to cash in on. The auction is slated to take place on 20 July, the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission's historic first moon landing, in NY where the pouch is expected to fetch anything between $2m and $4m - an amount no space exploration artefact has ever commanded at an auction.

The lunar sample return bag containing moon dust being auctioned for 4 million dollars. Ary was charged for stealing space artifacts and sentenced to 36 months in federal prison, at which time the bag was once again in the hands of the government.

The full story of what happened to the bag between 1969 and now has only been revealed in the past year.

It will be up for auction on July 20 along with a signed photograph of Armstrong's companion Buzz Aldrin on the Moon and other memorabilia.

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During the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong collected almost 500 grammes of material finer than one centimetre (cm), as well as 12 rock fragments larger than one cm from five different locations on the lunar surface in the region known as the Sea of Tranquillity. This confirmed not only that the bag was used during a lunar landing, but that it was used during the historic first lunar landing.

It's unclear how NASA lost the bag, but it eventually ended up in a private museum called the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. But, thanks to a nefarious government employee, the bag was stolen and then confiscated by federal agents who mislabeled it as being from a later mission.

A subsequent clerical error led to the mislabeling of the bag as being from the 1972 Apollo 17 mission, which made its apparent value drop greatly. Sotheby's auction house curators think the bag of moon dust could be the only privately held object of this nature on Earth. Not a single bid came in.

Enter Carlson, a Chicago-area attorney.

Carlson sent the bag to the Johnson Space Center to find out what mission it had been used on.

NASA kept the coveted sack.

Now it's set to go to the highest bidder, with Carlson getting the proceeds.

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