NASA Sues Former Apollo 14 Astronaut over Lunar Camera

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Edgar Dean Mitchell, a lunar module pilot and the sixth person to walk on the surface of the Moon, is being sued by NASA. NASA wants Mitchell to return a camera that went to the Moon on the Apollo 14 mission. A lawsuit filed by the federal government on Thursday in a South Florida federal court claims that the former astronaut tried to sell the camera in an auction.

NASA, reportedly, learned in March that a British auction house “was planning to sell the camera at an upcoming Space History Sale” in May. According to a Boston Globe article, government lawyers contend that Mitchell “is exercising improper dominion and control over a NASA Data Acquisition Camera.’’  The lawyers “are asking US District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley to order Mitchell to return the camera immediately.”

The lawsuit says that the camera had a pre-sale estimate of $60,000 to $80,000—and that “all equipment and property used during NASA operations remains the property of NASA unless explicitly released or transferred to another party.”

Mitchell, who is eighty, said, “It’s utter nonsense.” He added that during “the moon mission era” he and other astronauts had gotten permission to take mementos from the space craft. “We have dozens of pieces. All of us who flew to the moon.”

In addition to requesting that the judge declare the camera property of the US government, the lawsuit asks that Mitchell be required “to pay all legal and court fees arising from the case.”

NASA Biographical data on Edgar Dean Mitchell


US sues astronaut for camera’s return (Boston Globe)

NASA sues ex-astronaut Edgar Mitchell seeking return of camera that went to moon on Apollo 14 (Washington Post/AP)

Ex-astronaut tries to sell camera from moon trip: It’s a developing story — NASA sues to get it back after seeing it up for auction (MSNBC/Reuters)

NASA sues ex-astronaut over camera that went to moon: Lawsuit contends Edgar Mitchell tried to sell camera at auction (Orlando Sentinel/AP)

119 thoughts on “NASA Sues Former Apollo 14 Astronaut over Lunar Camera”

  1. Steven Blackwood:

    You’re missing the point. kderosa and Roco have all the earmarks (and sloped foreheads for that matter) of paid trolls sent to disrupt normal people’s conversations. We tolerate them because they amuse us like the trained monkeys they mimic. Eventually, we’ll stop answering their drivel and they’ll recede back into the red ooze they crawled from, but for now let’s enjoy the harangue. These guys really are funny. Think Martin & Lewis without the wit, savoir faire, or goofy face.

  2. someone at DOJ has discovered an inexpensive way to collect nasa moon memorabilia.

  3. Why is NASA pursuing this after all this time? How do you sort out one trinket from space over another, as far as intrinsic worth goes. That is a custom built Hasselblad film camera and as far as it being useful, it is obsolete. Film for it is hard to get, and then hard to get developed unless you have your own darkroom. The film is 6 centimeters wide, not 35mm. The true value is that it went to the moon; however, everything else that can be authenticated as being on the moon is also, as those Pawn Stars guys say, “Worth big money.”

    And if NASA gets it back, what do they plan to do with it? It will end up in a storage drawer somewhere, where it is likely to “sprout legs” and disappear just as other artifacts from those moon missions have done.

  4. Will you guys all just PLEASE shut it and stick to the topic at hand?

    AS for the topic at hand, it would be nice if we could have some of NASA’s reasoning in this matter. Having said that, it looks rather unseemly. The guy has had this camera for 40 years (oh, to return to those days of yesteryear!) and it otherwise would have been left on the moon. End this PR nightmare, MASA.

  5. @elaine

    yeah, I didn’t think you’d take the civil option.

    and, you obviously haven’t heard of the venona project or maybe you did, but just like saying stupid stuff.

    I think i’ll call this tactic or yours “Elaineism” – saying stupid things that are easily disproved with google. You live in a pre-google world, Elaine.

  6. kderosa,

    You claim hypocrisy in other people in the same way that Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed there were Communists who had infiltrated the federal government. I think I’ll call your tactic “kderosaism.”


  7. @elaine, I don’t need an invitation from you to comment, though thanks for thinking of me.

    Since you’re the author of this post, I think pointing out your hypocrisy is a relevant comment. It exposes the author’s bias. In this case one you are unaware of.

    Now if you want more civil comments, you might want to try acting more civilly yourself. Just a suggestion. I couldn’t care less whether you take it or not.

  8. Arthur, lighten up, The next guys up left a $38,000.000.00 Lunar roving vehicle behind, the stabilized attitude indicator or a camera is small potato’s. (And that was in 1971 dollars!) 🙂

    Neat article in the Wikipedia about the rovers. Actually, the article is kind of fuzzy on just how many rovers were built for that money and it could be 1 or all 4 as well as training and test models. (Considering government bookkeeping who knows what the actual cost was.) Four Lunar roving vehicles were made for that 38 mil. (I think.) Three went to the moon, each to be left behind and the forth was used for spare parts on the first three. It’s worth a read if for nothing else than the information regarding the “Walkback” option which explains why they were never driven very far. Cool stuff.

    I have a large, non commercial, framed photo of the Apollo 15 rover with one of the astronaut’s standing near it on the lunar surface that has been on the wall behind our first tech-command module since shortly after Apollo 15. Actually it’s the wall behind the desk and adjacent tables whereupon we put our computers, audio gear and other electronic toys but I digress. It’s a great photo, lotta’ space, lotta’ moon and the astronaut and rover are pretty small, it’s a stark, hostile place. I’ve contemplated that photo hundreds of times and marveled at the fact that we got there- WITH A CAR no less. LOL, Those guys were ghods in their day. A camera? it’s a trifle.

  9. Elaine,
    Great story. I think I have to agree with your concern about what took NASA so long to come after the camera. I think you forgot to apply your troll repellant this morning! 🙂

  10. kderosa,

    I repeat: Care to comment on the subject of this post? Do you think NASA was right or wrong to bring suit against Edgar Mitchell?

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