NASA flight suits found in thrift store part of Space Museum auction

Rare suits included in 450 historic items

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - The NASA flight and service suits discovered under a box of sweaters at a Titusville thrift store earlier this year will finally get auction tested this weekend.

The American Space Museum in Titusville has already received a handful of pre-auction bids for the NASA flight suits worn by astronauts George “Pinky” Nelson PhD and Charles D. Walker in the 1980s.

The unlikely discovery was made by college students, Talia Rappa and Skylar Ashworth, whose summer closeout shopping spree could deliver a return of $1,500 to $5,000 per suit.

Rappa and Ashworth only paid 20 cents each for the suits.

Chuck Jeffries, a board member with the American Space Museum, told News 6 Monday the college students have decided to keep two of the rare suits for themselves. 

“They were kind of in a weird corner," Rappa told News 6 earlier this year. "He (Skylar) pulled them all out at first then brought the whole handful over to me.”

According to experts at the American Space Museum, the astronaut’s names and flight dates on the white labels seem to match the time astronauts  Nelson PhD,  Robert A. Parker PhD and Walker, a payload specialist, flew shuttle missions between 1983 and 1985.

At first experts thought Nelson’s flight suit, a 38 small, was worn by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson but further investigation showed Nelson didn’t fly a shuttle mission until 1986.

Rappa, a junior at UCF studying astrophysics, told News 6 she has always been fascinated with space travel and would love to be part of the MARS mission. 

When the 20-year-old looked at the suits close-up she admits her “jaw dropped.”

Ashworth, 24,  who was recently accepted into a college aerospace program at FIT, told News 6 the space program is in his family DNA.  

“My parents worked NASA communications with the shuttle program and my grandfather even worked communications with the shuttle,” he said.

“It just blows my mind," Ashworth said. “ It (the bin holding the suits) was under two other big totes, I moved them off to the side … and I’m digging through a whole bunch of sweaters and stuff  and I found the white one with the patch just kind of laying there.” 

Jeffrey told News 6 the students have placed a reserve on each suit.

Jeffrey said that historically rare flight suits like this have fetched anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 but with all the media fanfare surrounding the discovery “anything is possible.”

By Monday the suits already had received  pre-auction bids ranging from $400 to $750.

The live auction officially starts at noon on Saturday at the American Space Museum, according to Jeffries. The auction will also be livestreamed.

To register for the auction go to spacewalkoffame.org.

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