Students buy NASA uniforms at a thrift store for 20 cents—but are blown away when they find out what they’re worth

September 13, 2017 4:49 pm Last Updated: September 13, 2017 4:49 pm


Everyone’s gone bargain hunting at some point, sifting through thrift stores and garage sales for great deals and unique items. And there’s always this fantasy that you might stumble upon something incredibly rare or valuable, unknowingly being sold for next to nothing, waiting to be swept up by a savvy buyer.

For two college students from Titusville, Florida, that dream became a reality.

Two thrift-loving kids rummaged through a bargain bin—and walked away with the haul of a lifetime.

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Talia Rappa, 20, and Skyer Ashworth, 24, have a lot in common—including a shared interest for space travel.

Rappa is a junior at the University of Central Florida studying astrophysics, and she dreams of being part of a NASA Mars mission.

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Likewise, Ashworth will soon begin an aerospace program at Eastern Florida State College—a natural choice, given his family background.

“My parents worked NASA communications with the shuttle program,” he told WKMG. “And my grandfather even worked communications with the shuttle.”

But these aspiring astronauts are still college students, so they also have another shared interest: “thrifting.”

Over the summer the two enjoyed hitting up thrift stores to see what they could find—and when they heard the Titusville Salvation Army was going out of business, they knew they had to check it out.

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The thrift shop had even lower prices than usual thanks to their inventory clearing, and all clothing items in the store were reduced to 20 cents.

That’s a great deal, even to pick up a few regular everyday items, and the students were browsing through the mounds of used clothes.

But then, they found something unusual that immediately captured their interest.

They found six jumpsuits—with “NASA” stitched all over them.

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There were five blue suits and one white one, each with the NASA logo embroidered. They didn’t have any special placement in the store—they were just piled among many other unrelated items.

“They were kind of in a weird corner,” Rappa recalled to WKMG. “Who knows how long they’ve been there.”

“[The bin holding the suits] was under two other big totes,” Ashworth explained. “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.”

But when they checked out the suits, they were stunned.

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“We laid them out on the cart, and just…[my] jaw dropped,” Rappa said.

The young space enthusiasts knew they were the real deal.

“Looking at all the patches and the material of the actual suits, we could tell that they were definitely not the fakes you can buy at the visitor’s center,” Rappa explained to FOX35.

They also examined the labels. They had names inside, indicating that they were used—and the names coordinated with astronauts who were with NASA in the 1980s.

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The students purchased all six suits—and they soon realized the store didn’t know what they had.

They paid a grand total of $2.40 for the suits.

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At that price, they were well worth it, even if they were fake—they’d make for pretty cool Halloween costumes.

But they weren’t fake. The students were shocked to find out the story behind them and how much they were actually worth.

Rappa and Ashworth consulted with experts at the local American Space Museum, who confirmed they were genuine.

They had actually been worn in space!

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The names and dates indicated that the blue suits were worn by a team of NASA astronauts—George “Pinky” Nelson, PhD, Robert A. Parker, PhD, and Charles D. Walker—on a series of missions between 1983 and 1985.

They were surprised to find out that they were used in space. At the time, due to budget issues, astronauts reused the same suits for training and space missions.

The white suit wasn’t worn by an astronaut, but was used by the work crew who helped them board safely.

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The students soon found out what the suits were actually worth.

They were valued at about $5,000 each—a total of at least $20,000.

“I cannot imagine this ever happening to me,” Rappa told WKMG.

“It just blows my mind,” Ashworth said.

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The suits will be auctioned off in November. Part of the profits will go to the American Space Museum, but a lot of it will go towards scholarships for Rappa and Ashworth.

The two are considering keeping one of the suits themselves, however—and Rappa admits she couldn’t resist seeing if one would fit.

“I definitely tried one on,” she told FOX35. “It was a lot of fun.”

But hopefully, these two aspiring astronauts will have their own suits in the future.