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A Ridiculous Situation PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

James Oberg has just sent me a news item that would probably escape your attention, but has me personally enraged. It involves an American hero, someone with whom I strongly disagree because of – in my view – his outrageous statements concerning alien landings – we’re talking Mars and/or intergalactic here – and paranormal claims. I refer to 80-year-old Edgar Mitchell, one of the brave astronauts who chose to venture into outer space to add to our knowledge of that part of our surroundings. He was the sixth man to have walked on our Moon, in 1971. He retired from NASA a year later.

I have unlimited respect for all of these pioneers, some of whom gave their lives while volunteering to educate us. The recent news item says that our federal government has decided to sue Dr. Mitchell. Why? Because he offered to sell – by auction – a souvenir that he chose to salvage from his lunar adventure, a camera that would otherwise have been simply left behind on the Moon! Bonhams auction house, a UK-based agency, has now pulled the camera from a planned May 5 sale, where they estimated that it could fetch as much as $80,000.

Our government, alarmed at this discovery, claims that Mitchell was trying to sell property that wasn't his. Their indignant lawyers, in the action against the astronaut, smugly stated:

Defendant Edgar Mitchell is a former NASA employee who is exercising improper dominion and control over a NASA Data Acquisition Camera.

Come on, folks, this is just one piece of what NASA deems “space junk,” a throwaway, a tiny, tiny fraction of the tons of material that was shot into space or simply left behind on the Moon, probably never to be seen again.  Where does the government get the strange notion that this item, which they insist comes under their “dominion and control,” calls for special treatment?

To show you just how unreasonable this action is, consider an additional fact: astronaut Alan Bean reports that the astronauts – heroes, remember! – were ordered to return to NASA anything they got in connection with their official duties. He recalls that he was forced to return a dagger and his wife to hand over a bracelet that they received as gifts in Morocco when he and other astronauts took part in a worldwide goodwill tour. Other astronauts have – literally – dozens of objects they salvaged from their adventures, and as a taxpayer, I’m quite willing to allow them to keep such items and dispose of them in any way they wish. I feel that my readers will agree with me on this point, but the U.S. government can’t wait to get back any and all of these mementos – and destroy them.

Astronauts Bean and Pete Conrad took two cameras to the Moon in 1969 which stayed there. For consistency, I suggest that NASA should send another flotilla of missions to Luna to gather up all the space junk and return it to Earth – where it can be officially and safely destroyed.

Edgar Mitchell shouldn't be faulted. I’m offended by this lawsuit, and I believe that somewhere in the legal system there will be lawyers who could and just might wish to take up this matter and defend him in court. How embarrassing that the rest of the world sees us as such a fussy bureaucracy with no sense of compassion or common sense.

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Not that I disagree, but...
written by otto, July 01, 2011
Not that I disagree, but moon rocks and any other space artifacts are illegal to sell. They're national treasures.

Now, I'm not sure where you get that they're destroying these artifacts, but I think that yes, he shouldn't have the item and should return it to NASA for storage. The rarity of any item that has been to the frickin' moon, along with the difficulty of obtaining more, makes it priceless. Literally, it should not have a price set on it.

Artifacts relating to the lunar missions items belong to all of us, and should not be used by one old man, even if he is a hero, to profit from. As a society, we should be better than that.
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written by William, July 01, 2011
All he has to do is show evidence that NASA presented it to him. A certificate or a photo will do just fine. Then the lawyers will HAVE to back off.
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Sorry but I have to agree with Otto
written by ScanningFool, July 01, 2011
Regardless of hero status no one can sell things that do not belong to them. If this camera was issued to him and custom fit to him such as his clothing used on the mission it would be his to sell. This item is a national treasure and was illegally kept by him. He should be respected and not prosecuted but you cannot allow this sale to proceed. Once the government is put on notice that a piece of property belonging to the government (or people of the USA) is being sold then they have a duty to stop the sale and recover the property. This camera belongs in the Smithsonian's collection not in some private collection.
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Kinda agree the camera wasn't/isn't his to sell...
written by Nyx, July 01, 2011
I wouldn't want to see an ex-astronaut prosecuted with any vigor, but really, the camera was never his to sell. Any materials I might take from a previous employer aren't legally mine either, regardless of what that employer was going to do with them eventually. Unless they sold or gifted them to me.

Speaking of gifts, even the president of the US can't keep most of the gifts he (someday she) receives. The Constitution (Article I, Section 9) prohibits anyone in the US Government from receiving a personal gift from a foreign head of state without the consent of Congress. It's a darn shame for the other astros and their wives, but I think this is a rule that is actually applied pretty consistently.
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It's all a factor of figures isn't it?
written by Walrus, July 01, 2011
For many years I worked minimum wage at a call centre - but the same would be true of burger flipping or something else

If you leave with employers product without express permission, no matter how unused that product may be,
guess what, you are in court on theft.

Now just because this joker happens to have made in a week what someone on minimum wage makes in a year, why should the rules be any different?

If it's ok for him, why is it not ok for the little people? Because our lawyers aren't as expensive? (HA like we can afford lawyers!)

No, taking employer property is not on. Unless it is owed to you as part of the contract, or expressly gifted to you as an act of goodwill or thanks for good or exceptional work, it's not yours to sell, give it back.
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written by Keith Bowden, July 01, 2011
If the camera was supposed to have been abandoned on the moon, then it is salvage - free and clear. (I almost want to watch the old Andy Griffith TV movie/series Salvage One now...)
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Trading Stamps
written by GusGus, July 01, 2011
I used to work for the federal government. At the time, their rules even covered trading stamps. (S&H Green Stamps, Blue Chip Stamps, etc.). If I claimed gasoline expenses while on a trip and received trading stamps at the filling station, I was required to turn in the stamps because the federal government paid for them. So their rules are all-encompassing and specific.

In the case of the camera, he should have left it behind as planned and brought back some more rocks - that's what we were paying for.

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Skeptics as usual., Lowly rated comment [Show]
One question...
written by FledgelingSkeptic, July 01, 2011
WHY would the government destroy an artifact like that? I know that much of what our gov't. does makes little to no sense. However, since the camera is obviously not Mitchell's property, it should be added to artifacts housed at the Smithsonian. The camera wasn't his to begin with and whether it would have been just left behind or not, it's still not his property.

I have nothing but admiration for astronauts and I really hope that Mitchell isn't prosecuted. But he never should have taken the camera in the first place.
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written by William, July 01, 2011
It really comes down to whether it was presented to him by a NASA official. None of the stories I've read so far prove the case either way, and none of them say the camera would be destroyed. Too many of you are jumping to conclusions based on a sound bite.

All statements above, based on the premise cited, are true. But you have to admit that the premise is still unknown at this point. Aren't we skeptics supposed to look for the facts before jumping to conclusions?
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written by Ivan B., July 01, 2011
Isn't all this just a great "fertile ground" for conspiracy theories? Great job NASA!
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written by William, July 01, 2011
Lord K-
No need to get insulting about it. I was just pointing out that even the notion that NASA intended to leave it as garbage was not clearly made. And even so, since Mitchell brought it back using NASA-funded transport, it belongs to NASA using the rules in place at the time. For it to be his to sell, NASA must have officially presented it to him in some way. That method has not been made public yet.

This story is just a sound bite, and I remain skeptical until all the facts are made known.
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written by Kevin Hoover, July 01, 2011
Randi,

If it's OK for Mitchell to sell gov't property, then we are setting a precedent for all gov't employees to do the same.

This would create an incentive for not just astronauts, but anyone in government employ to look around for goodies to pluck, stash and sell. This would have all sorts of counterproductive effects.
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Sorry, but I disagree.
written by jsmoody, July 01, 2011
On a spacecraft, weight is extremely important. I understand that the camera probably didn't really weigh that much, depending on the type, but it could be critical to the trajectory, fuel consumption, etc. of the spacecraft. It also is NASA property and if they chose to leave it on the Moon, then that's where it should be as part as a memorial and artifact of the landing. Yes, the guy is a hero, but does that give him the right to steal and to possibly endanger himself and others by increasing the weight of the spacecraft?
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written by Kevpod, July 01, 2011
"Kevin, I respectfully request that you realize that the CAMERA WAS, AT THE TIME HE CLAIMED IT, ESSENTIALLY SPACE JUNK, left in the giant junkyard lot of the universe. "

I disagree in that nowhere was it stated that this is any one person's personal property. He has no receipt for that item.

When we get back to the moon, are the landing sites open for anyone to go and dismantle for salvage? I would argue that they and the equipment there are historic sites to be protected.

The bigger problem is that it gives people entering either the Astronaut Corps or other branches of service another motivation – to profit off items they choose to keep. After all, they will say, it was OK for Mitchell. Why not me?
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It is also NASA property
written by jsmoody, July 01, 2011
I read somewhere that it took about $100,000 per pound to send something to the moon and back. So he wasted $100,000 and stole something that should have been left on the Moon as a memorial to the flight.
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Still NASA's junk
written by Nyx, July 01, 2011
@ken: "CAMERA WAS, AT THE TIME HE CLAIMED IT, ESSENTIALLY SPACE JUNK"
You don't know that. Perhaps you're basing that statement on this blog post, which is not an authoritative source. Unfortunately most of the general reporting is just a rehash of the same Reuters article, so not a lot of deets.

The camera became valuable precisely because it came BACK from space. By not leaving it, he made it valuable as a memento, or a museum piece, or collectible. By not junking it, it remained NASA's property and payload. So hopefully he can document that NASA gifted it to him, I'll continue to watch the story with interest.
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written by Kevpod, July 01, 2011
The camera belongs to the people who paid for it and the trip it went on, not the employee who operated it.
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The issue is the precedent this would set
written by Kevpod, July 01, 2011
Well, apparently we just disagree, LK. At risk of repeating myself, I'll put it a different way.

Do we really want to have a policy that government employees are entitled to decide which property is of no further use, stuff it in their pockets and cart it off to sell later?

The more expensive the item, the bigger the motivation. And the bigger the motivation to get into government service for ignoble reasons.

I just see this as a very counterproductive precedent/policy.
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written by Lord Kenneth, July 01, 2011
Kevpod, if the circumstances in the article are as presented, then under this and similar circumstances, yes. As presented here this is not so ambiguous. Given the wide range of excuses made against Mr. Mitchell here (all the way down to concerns about fuel I might add!) it appears to me that a very clear ideology of "the government is above the people" is at play here. Why the skeptic movement as a whole (in general terms) has adopted such premises I have no idea. What is it about the skeptical movement that results in such a line of thinking?
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Ridiculous? Not so much so ...
written by shaire, July 01, 2011
Previous posters have correctly pointed out that the item in question was not his to sell ... cut and dried. That should end the discussion. But, given the outrage expressed some, let's review some of the other details.

1) Space Junk: The items left behind on the moon are not considered by NASA (or any other knowledgeable source) to be "space junk" or "garbage" or otherwise discarded for lack of value. If it was possible to do so, NASA would have brought back to earth every item it lauched to the moon. However, it's just not practical, or at times even possible, to do so due to the physics of mass and energy. The moon missions were designed to leave equipment on the moon only because they didn't have the energy budget to return them to the Earth. Every single milligram of mass must be accounted for when designing energy budgets for fuel use and trajectory design. If the camera that Dr Mitchell brought back from the moon was supposed to be returned with the astronauts by mission design (i.e. accounted for in the mission planning), then it should have been turned over to NASA upon return. If not, then Dr Mitchell knowingly and irresponsibly placed himself and his crewmates in jeopardy by altering the mass of the return capusule by the amount of the camera. Fortunately, NASA engineers build into the mission parameters a factor of safety which, no doubt, secured the safe return of Dr Mitchell and his crew.

2) Taxpayers: Yes, the taxpayers paid for that camera and NASA, as the trustee of these taxpayer funds, retains the rights over all items purchased by those funds. By selling, or attempting to sell, the camera owned by NASA (i.e. the taxpayers), Dr Mitchell was, in essence, fencing stolen merchandise, an act which IMHO diminishes the otherwise honorable status of a true American hero. That said, who among us would not have gladly consented to have NASA gift the camera to Dr. Mitchell? I know I wouldn't have begrudged him such a token of his honorable and heroic service not only to his country but, more importantly, to the advancement of science. As it played out, however, it appears by his actions that Dr. Mitchell is less interested in the camera as keepsake of his experience than as a means to a make a few bucks.

3) Gift: If NASA knowingly allowed Dr. Mitchell to keep the camera, as in a "gift" say, then the only grounds for a lawsuit at this point would be that an agreement between Dr. Mitchell and NASA had been contracted that he not attempt to sell it for personal gain (or something of the ilk).

We don't know all of the details in this matter. I'm not sure that a lawsuit is the best way to resolve this situation ... then again, I don't know the details of any previously failed attempts to resolve it. So, for all we know, this might be the avenue of last resort. Regardless, this is an unpleasant situation.
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It's our camera, not any one person's
written by Kevpod, July 01, 2011
"it appears to me that a very clear ideology of "the government is above the people" is at play here."

I see your point but come at it from another angle.

Supposedly, the U.S. Government is of, for and by the people. We all know that that is not entirely true. But it is something to aspire to.

So I argue that government property is the people's property, and not one person's property to transact and trade in.
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written by William, July 01, 2011
Mr Mitchell is 80 years old, and probably isn't worried about mementos much. Better to sell the item and give the money to some charity rather than have it part of his estate and fought over by lawyers.
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written by spacelaser, July 01, 2011
Michell is a known flake. Why didn't one of his psychic
friends or his ESP warn him this would happen?(g)

On the other hand, a huge number of the Apollo astronauts have
collections of things given them by contractors or kept as souvenirs.
from their missions. Read any of the good histories for countless examples.
Michell is one of the least of these. A good friend says if everything Buzz
Aldrin has sold claiming it went into space with him was real, that was a semi
not a spacecraft.(g) During the Mercury, Gemini or Apollo eras, NASA would
state that they were in the business of going into space, not collecting
artifacts. Lots of stuff was thrown away because they didn't care. Today,
things are automatically Smithsonian property. However, astronauts can fly
a few personal items for themselves and families. If you have one of these
like I do, it comes with a certificate of authenticity and everything is much
more controlled. Things were not as clear at the time of Apollo.
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written by GrahamZ, July 01, 2011
Based on what I'm reading here, the law seems to be on the side of the government, and they are well within their rights to bring him to court. That said, it would probably be in Mr. Mitchell's best interest to apologize and return the item. Assuming there are no damages involved (which I think is a pretty safe assumption), I think the courts would go easy on him. I mean, he's 88 years old, this is most likely his first offense, and he's hardly a threat to society. I'd say though that he's blown any chance of working as an astronaut again, and shouldn't that be enough?
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written by ConspicuousCarl, July 01, 2011
The Executive and Judicial branches of the US federal and state governments have repeatedly affirmed that anything abandoned as waste by citizens is free for the government to pick up and use for their purposes (typically as evidence without needing a warrant). I don't see why it shouldn't go both ways.

The only question left is whether or not NASA intended to leave the camera there as leftover junk, or if they intended to leave it there as part of their ongoing operations.
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hmm
written by Zoroaster, July 01, 2011
I think NASA should stop being petty and look at the potential this has for funding future missions. Instead of begging for funds from a strapped public they could pre-sell ultra-rare Mars rocks to wealthy collectors to fund their Mars mission for example.
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written by Lord Kenneth, July 01, 2011
ConspicuousCarl, you are an oasis of sanity in a desert of infertile minds.
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written by gdave, July 01, 2011
From the news accounts I have seen, Edgar Mitchell is claiming that NASA gave him the camera and a number of other pieces of equipment from the Apollo missions as mementos, and that it was a common NASA practice at the time, since discontinued.

If his account is accurate, it seems likely this was an informal practice, with no proper paper trail, and thus the current government officials believe the camera to still be U.S. government property. It seems quite possible that it is an innocent misunderstanding resulting, not from "a fussy bureaucracy with no sense of compassion or common sense," but from a careless bureaucracy that didn't properly document the disposition of the camera in the first place, and a guy who never thought anyone would question his legal title to a memento.

On the other hand, Captain Mitchell is also apparently claiming ownership based on his contention that NASA would have otherwise left the camera on the moon. As others have pointed out, that argument doesn't wash. I served two tours in Kuwait and Iraq, and I would have been court martialed if I had kept a $60,000-$80,000 piece of equipment and tried to sell it at auction, even if it had been designated to be abandoned in place (abandoning equipment in place is NOT the same as throwing out trash - not even close). Captain Mitchell, at the time of the Apollo missions, was not only an employee of the U.S. government, but an officer in the U.S. Navy. He should know better than that. Also note that no one seems to be even remotely considering bringing a criminal prosecution - NASA is simply suing to stop the auction and recover the camera.

BTW, does anyone know where Randi got the idea that NASA would destroy the camera if it regained custody?
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written by Able, July 01, 2011

I also don't know why Randi threw in "the U.S. government can’t wait to get back any and all of these mementos – and destroy them".


Astronauts are heroes. My Father attempted to become one during Mercury but was passed. During my Fathers AF piloting career he wound up with a few military souvenirs from Korea and Vietnam that should have been left behind. He is the first to say they are stolen from the govt (even though they would have been left behind).

They are personal to him and he would never try and sell them even if he was broke.
Mitchell should never have tried to sell the camera.


P.S. Not knocking them but my 86yo Dad is just as much a hero as any Astronaut.
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A (very little) bit more info
written by nethead, July 02, 2011
This seems to be the source article:

http://www.space.com/12141-moon-camera-apollo-astronaut-lawsuit.html

There is also a two paragraph blurb out by the AP that is running around. Too short to be of any use. (All too common with AP reporting. Why papers run with these is the subject of another rant.)

It seems that this is from an auction last year that included other Apollo related items.

http://www.space.com/8187-pieces-apollo-13-history-space-auction-block.html

The civil case number is 9:11-cv-80751-DTKH assigned to the Honorable Daniel T. K. Hurley. No trial day seems to have be set at this time.

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written by Blizno, July 02, 2011
written by Lord Kenneth, July 01, 2011
"You're the kinds of people that would send a homeless man to jail for taking food out of the dumpster in the back of a restaurant."

Wow. Just...wow. I'm stunned.

Mitchell was not and is not homeless and he took something of enormous value, considering the huge cost per ounce of sending anything back from the moon. He did not take left-over food from a dumpster. If the weight of the camera was not budgeted for, he increased the risk of running out of fuel during the return. That's very unlikely because a margin of safety would have been added to fuel calculations, but it was irresponsible to devour some of that margin of safety without permission.

The post doesn't tell if Mitchell had informed anybody that he was adding the camera to the return cargo or if he had permission to do so. If he didn't have permission and especially if he didn't tell anybody that he was doing so, he added slightly to the danger of the mission.

At any rate, the camera is NASA property and Mitchell has no right to sell it. The huge value of the camera as a museum piece makes its theft a felony.

I could not read if Mitchell had permission to take or to keep the camera. If he had permission to keep it, it belongs to him. If he did not have permission to keep it, it belongs to NASA.
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written by Blizno, July 02, 2011
"For consistency, I suggest that NASA should send another flotilla of missions to Luna to gather up all the space junk and return it to Earth – where it can be officially and safely destroyed."

That kind of statement adds nothing to the conversation.
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written by Willy K, July 02, 2011
NASA has a program to LOAN artifacts.
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/313571...tions.pdf

The NASA Exhibit Program includes the NASA Exhibit Outreach Program, Exhibit Loan Program and the Artifact Outreach Program.

7. Title to the NASA exhibit furnished by the Government shall remain in the Government. The sponsor shall maintain adequate property control records of the Government-furnished exhibit in accordance with sound business practice.

It is the current official policy. I would think that NASA could reasonably argue that it is retroactive. I suppose a court will have to decide who's right.

If only Mr. Mitchell hadn't tried to sell the camera! smilies/cry.gif
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It's not that big a deal, folks
written by Kevpod, July 02, 2011
I've expresed an opinion, but in the cosmic scale of things it doesn't seem to be that big of a deal. Certainly not enough to get angry and start calling people names.
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written by Blizno, July 02, 2011
written by Kevpod, July 02, 2011
"I've expresed an opinion, but in the cosmic scale of things it doesn't seem to be that big of a deal."

I don't agree. It is a priceless historical artifact. It should have been left on the moon, apparently, but it was brought back. Since it is back, it is of great value as a memento of the boldest adventure ever undertaken by humanity. Throwing the camera away on the moon before leaving and throwing it away now that it's on Earth could not possibly be more different.
There's a good chance that humans will never get back to the moon, to Mars or to anywhere beyond near-Earth orbit.
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written by ClareZ, July 02, 2011
I think it may boil down to this: If my government employer throws something in the trash, am I allowed to take it out and keep it? For the most part, trash becomes anyone's who wants it. Does anyone know if trash of your employer is treated differently?

If not, then his lawyers will only have to prove that it was trash first. Just because the circumstance was unusual should not matter. Of course by then more than 80k will have been spent.
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written by Blizno, July 03, 2011
written by ClareZ, July 02, 2011
"I think it may boil down to this: If my government employer throws something in the trash, am I allowed to take it out and keep it?"

You are missing the point completely. It was not trash. It was an extremely expensive, valuable piece of equipment. NASA would unquestionably have wanted it back but they chose to jettison it to save the weight and make the return trip a little less dangerous.

It was not trash, of course.
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written by ClareZ, July 03, 2011
Blizno wrote: "It was not trash, of course."

Have you ever met any lawyers? I did not miss the point. I think it all may hang on whether it can be defined as trash, legally. Whether you or I think it is or not matters not one whit. I think 'of course' is overstating it.

I expect the courts will be battling out that particular definition assuming that taking trash is not considered stealing.
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written by William, July 03, 2011
I read that article again. Nowhere does it state that NASA intended to trash it. Nowhere does it state what NASA intended to do with the camera--1971 or as now.

So, start being skeptical and wait for the facts before you make judgement on speculation.
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written by popsaw, July 03, 2011
It is not a question of theft otherwise he would have been arrested and charged with theft. It is a civil contest regarding the "exercising improper dominion and control over a NASA Data Acquisition Camera".In my opinion NASA would not have been the lest bit interested if it were not for the $80,000the camera may fetch.
NASA are are trying to set a precedent over any artefacts that surface , in order that they can claim dominion themselves.
Bring on Judge Judy! smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by Bruno, July 04, 2011
Odd. Would Nasa really not have known that he had the camera? The fact that he had it indicates at least some tacit approval, if unofficial: "you're really not supposed to have this. Oh well, you've earned it". Of course, under those circumstances it's not exactly good taste to go and sell it.
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written by EJocys, July 05, 2011
So what if he wants to make some money at the end of his life. He risked his life (rockets explode, crash, unpredictable things happens) and contributed to the project so out of respect NASA could pass this because he earned it.
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agree with shaire
written by Chunick, July 07, 2011
@shaire - I agree with your well-reasoned comment. +1.
@Lord Kenneth - I voted all your comments down since on their own they were extremely poorly reasoned and certainly when held up against shaire's comments yours do not hold anything of substance. Re-iterating a poor argument of 'recycling' over and over does not somehow magically make it a better argument.
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written by Blizno, July 07, 2011
written by EJocys, July 05, 2011:
"So what if he wants to make some money at the end of his life. He risked his life (rockets explode, crash, unpredictable things happens) and contributed to the project so out of respect NASA could pass this because he earned it."

That argument also applies to every soldier and every police officer who has ever risked its own life in the performance of its duty. That also applies to every EMS technician, every ER doctor, every nurse attending every emergency, etc., etc.

Mitchell did an amazing, incredible thing (flying to the moon, walking upon it and then returning to Earth). Very, very, very few people have ever done that.
Many other people have done amazing things requiring incredible courage and strength without ever leaving Earth.

Mitchell is a stupendous human being but he is not the only such human being. One single minute of Mitchell's walking on the moon dwarfs all of the years of my entire life.

There are many, many, many ordinary people who don't bring attention upon themselves.
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Votes: +2
My 2c worth...
written by crazyinjun, July 12, 2011
My 2 cents' worth:

1. It was NASA property. That NASA intended him to leave it on Moon is irrelevant. Was he allowed to bring back personal mementos from the moon? If so, were NASA items allowed as those personal mementos (or just moon rocks)? It definitely cost a lot of money to build and also to bring back from the moon. Was that return trip for the camera (a) officially sanctioned by NASA, (b) tolerated in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink fashion, or (c) done without NASA's knowledge/ approval?
2. Did take it and keep it all these years, again,(a) with official NASA sanction, (b) in an unofficial "keep it - what's a camera between friends, and besides, you've earned it!" manner, or (c) without NASA knowledge / approval?
3. If the answer is (c) to either of the above, he is clearly in the wrong. If it is (b) - it is very murky and the lawyers will likely fight it out. But even if it is (a), does that mean it is his to sell? That is unclear. Is NASA allowed to give away lunar mission equipment as mementos (whether officially or unofficially)? And are the recipients free to sell it? If the American taxpayers paid for it, it belongs in the Smithsonian.
4. Is this a Kodak Instamatic? Unlikely. It is probably an official NASA camera. It probably has some technology that was considered revolutionary in its day. Sure, we may have surpassed the photographic technology, but it may have other technology (such as the ability to work in vacuum) that NASA may still need to protect. So while they may have allowed him to keep it, they don't want it to be sold to just about anyone!
5. You could also stretch a point and make the argument that it belongs to all people of the Earth since it is such a historic artifact. I'm sure some will disagree with this, but the argument can certainly be made for it.

Bottom-line, it most likely belongs to NASA / The American Public / All Humanity. But best to wait for all the facts to be made public and reserve judgment.

I'm new here so please be gentle in your flaming...
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Agree with Chunick
written by crazyinjun, July 12, 2011
@Chunick
Re-iterating a poor argument of 'recycling' over and over does not somehow magically make it a better argument.


I love that comment! Totally agree! I'll use it now in my discussions with friends! Thanks! smilies/cool.gif
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