It's that time of year again at the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation as their 2010 Fall Astronaut Experiences & Memorabilia Semi-Annual Auction gets underway.
The organisation funds scholarships for well-motivated, high-performing students to take their place amongst those in the US pushing the boundaries ever further in space.
Auctioning to help fund their activities are various experiences with astronauts: a tour of Apollo 12 Alan Bean's art studio (where he paints pieces referencing his moonlanding experiences, including fragments of space memorabilia such as moondust into the works), and the chance watch a shuttle launch with Apollo 14 moonwalker Edgar Mitchell.
But of course, the most exciting possibilities are collectibles: notably a letter from Mercury and Apollo astronaut Alan Shepard, which was written to and comes from the personal collection of Skylab 4 Astronaut William 'Bill' Pogue.
The choicest piece of memorabilia is perhaps a 5.5" x 4" Switzerland flag, flown to the Moon aboard Apollo 15 Command Module (CM), Endeavour, which launched from the Kennedy Space Centre on July 26, 1971 and is from the personal collection of Apollo 15 CM Pilot Al Worden.
A flown US flag is also available.
The lot which is currently receiving the most bids however is a powerful image of the Earth taken by Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Al Worden after the crew departed their home planet for a journey to the moon.
The canvas is signed by 25 Hall of Fame Astronauts including: Buzz Aldrin, John Blaha, Charles Bolden, Vance Brand, Dan Brandenstein, Scott Carpenter, Jerry Carr, Mike Coats, Bob Crippen, Walt Cunningham, Charlie Duke, Owen Garriott, Robert "Hoot" Gibson, John Glenn, Richard Gordon, Fred Gregory, Fred Haise, Hank Hartsfield, Rick Hauck, Jeff Hoffman, Jack Lousma, James Lovell, Brewster Shaw, John Young and Worden.
The auction takes place in Heathrow, London on September 25, but online bidding is available.