July 20, 2011

Astronaut Claims Moon Camera Was Gift From NASA

Former astronaut Edgar Mitchell says a camera he brought back from the 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission was given to him by NASA despite the space agency's lawsuit asking for it back, according to a recent Associated Press report.

Mitchell lawyer Donald Jacobson wants NASA to dismiss its case, saying that a four-year statute of limitations has long since run out and that there are no records to disprove his contention that the camera was a gift.

"Dr. Edgar Mitchell is an American hero," Jacobson wrote in the papers filed late Tuesday. "Dr. Mitchell knows he received the camera as a gift, and all the government can say is that it doesn't know one way or the other."

NASA sued Mitchell in federal court after the camera surfaced as part of an auction of space-related items.  NASA said the device remains the agency's property and is demanding for Mitchell to return it.

Mitchell is one of only 12 humans to have ever walked on the moon.  He piloted the lunar module on Apollo 14 and spent about nine hours on the moon collecting samples and walking lengthy distances to show it could be done safely.

Jacobson said in the court papers that Mitchell decided to unbolt the camera from the lunar module before the return to Earth to preserve the tape inside.

The module was designed to crash back on the moon once the astronauts were safely aboard the space capsule.

"The camera obviously was considered expendable by NASA at the time," according to the court documents.

Jacobson said that NASA would have failed to catalog and track the camera along with everything else that went on Apollo 14 during that quarantine period.

Reports believe the estimated auction value of the camera is between $60,000 and $80,000.


Image Caption: Mitchell studies a map while walking on the Moon, February 6, 1971. Credit: NASA/Alan Shepard


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