NASA Sues Astronaut for Swiping Moon Camera
Moonwalker Edgar Mitchell tried to sell camera at auction
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff | Suggested by Larry-Crehore
Posted Jul 1, 2011 4:15 AM CDT
Former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell arrives for the premiere of the "In the Shadow of the Moon," at the Hayden Planetarium.   (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

(Newser) – NASA is suing the sixth man on the moon for a camera that he says would have ended up as "government trash" or moon litter if he hadn't kept it. Government lawyers got involved after Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell attempted to sell the lunar movie camera at auction, where it was expected to fetch up to $80,000, Reuters reports. The 80-year-old astro rejects NASA's claim that he is "exercising improper dominion and control" over its camera and should return it immediately.

Mitchell—who admits that NASA has asked for the camera before—says moon mission astronauts were allowed to keep plenty of mementos. "We have dozens of pieces, all of us who flew to the moon," he tells the Palm Beach Post. Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, says he left behind the camera he took there in 1969. "Be kind to Ed," he says. "These things, back in those days, it wasn't important. We were trying to get to the moon and get back alive. The other stuff, it wasn't important."

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Aug 10, 2012 4:30 PM CDT
I have to side with Astronaut Mitchell. Not only because I grew up in the '60s as one of those "rocket boys' and loved everything connected with space travel, when I was in the Air Force we would turn repairable assets in to base supply only to find said assets in a dumpster afterwards. He is correct that the camera would have ended up as government trash. Besides, isn't possession still nine tenths of the law? I say he should do what he wants with something he has had for almost 50 years.
Jul 1, 2011 9:53 AM CDT
I don't think there is anything wrong with astronauts keeping souvenirs of pieces that are no longer needed for the mission. However, it should be treated just like the Academy Awards treats Oscars; neither the winner or their heirs can sell it without first offering to sell back to the Academy for $1. I think the memento should be his as long as he wants it, but the profits from sales should go back to NASA because its was initially a taxpayer investment.
Jul 1, 2011 8:49 AM CDT
It sounds like a modern day bureaucrat got involved and made a dumb-ass 21st century decision. Since film isn't used anymore, NASA has no use for the camera and you don't take relics into space. I agree. It sounds like a senseless attack on a moon hero.