Tartan from Apollo 12 moon mission up at auction

The piece of tartan taken by US astronaut Alan Bean on the 1969 Apollo 12 voyage to the moon. PIC Contributed.

The piece of tartan taken by US astronaut Alan Bean on the 1969 Apollo 12 voyage to the moon. PIC Contributed.

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A piece of tartan which travelled to moon on the Apollo 12 mission has gone up for auction.

Alan Bean carried the MacBean tartan aboard the Lunar Module Intrepid in November 1969 in recognition of his Scottish roots.

US astronaut Alan Bean. PIC Wikicommons

US astronaut Alan Bean. PIC Wikicommons

The cloth, which is signed in black felt tip ‘Alan Bean, Apollo 12’, is accompanied by a handwritten letter of provenance from the space explorer, now aged 84.

The letter says: “I hereby certify that the accompanying piece of MacBean tartan travelled to the moon with Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and me in our command module, ‘Yankee Clipper’ and then down to the Ocean of Storms with Pete and me in our lunar module, ‘Intrepid’.

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“The MacBean tartan remained on ‘Intrepid’ during our 33-hour stay on the lunar surface. The tartan has been in my personal collection since my return to Earth.”

Pete Conrad and Alan Bean became the third and fourth men to set foot on the moon on November 19, 1969, less than three months after launch of Apollo 11.

It is understood that one of Alan Bean’s ancestors, John MacBean, was exiled to New England in 1652 following his support for King Charles II.

Robert Livingston, executive vice presidents at RR Auction in New Hampshire, said: “This unique flown piece of tartan symbolizes Bean’s Scottish pride— the surname Bean meaning ‘lively one’— as well as his most defining space achievement.”

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Other items included in the sale include Bean’s ‘Rocket Pen’ used during the Apollo 12 Mission and carried in right arm pocket during both moonwalks.

The pen has a small swatch of Velcro on its cap with the aluminium cap clip engraved ‘USA, Rocket’.

A further authentication has been supplied by Bean, in which he confirms that the felt tip pen travelled with him to the lunar surface on the Ocean of Storms in November 1969.

The pen was also used by Bean while he was on board the Yankee Clipper voyaging to and from the moon.

The authentication letter adds: “I used it during descent, and landing on the moon, inside our lunar module, Intrepid, and on liftoff to rendezvous with the orbiting command module. I carried it in my right arm pocket during both moonwalks.”

Online bidding for the Space and Aviation auction from RR Auction began on October 13 and will conclude on October 20.

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