NASA moves to sue Apollo 14 astronaut over $80,000 camera used on the moon


2015-06-26 12:27:57


NASA moves to sue Apollo 14 astronaut over $80,000 camera used on the moon

Edgar Mitchell maintains he was within his rights to offer the item for sale at Bonhams

Another dispute has blown up over the ownership of space memorabilia offered at auction.

Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 moonwalker (alongside Alan Shepard) has riled NASA by attempting to sell a camera from the mission - used on the moon no less - at a Bonhams auction.

Edgar Mitchell explains why he believes the camera is his

They claim that the camera was never signed off into Mitchell's possession and was not his to sell.

A rather sharp legal statement was released on behalf of the government describing Mitchell as "exercising improper dominion and control over a NASA Data Acquisition Camera" (according to the Palm Beach Post).

The camera is believed to have been one salvaged by Mitchell when it would otherwise have been jettisoned onto the moon with the rest of the lunar module. He believes that he owns it, and that NASA officials acknowledged this at the time, though not in writing.

The case echoes that which enveloped Regency Superior Auctions recently. The company offered a piece of camera film which had moon dust on it, consigned in good faith, and NASA disputed it. The 'owner' graciously conceded it.

A more extreme example of a disputed sale from a few weeks earlier was that of a woman arrested for apparently trying to sell a moonrock which had been a diplomatic gift.

Memorabilia associated with Mitchell and Apollo 14 can be highly valuable. His moondust-smudged nametag from the mission sold at Heritage Auctions last year for just under $60,000, and his autograph alongside those of other moonwalkers is available for $4,950.

At the time of the Apollo missions, little thought was given to the monetary value of space memorabilia. Auctions specialising in that area only began in the 1990s. Now it is an excellent area in which to find alternative investments.

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