NASA sues 80-year-old astronaut

You can say you've seen it all now.

As told on the Space.com site, NASA is in the midst of suing astronaut Edgar Mitchell because he brought a 16-mm movie camera back from the moon that was supposed to burn up in the lunar module when it fell to earth.

The Space.com site relates that "the astronauts asked their bosses at the Manned Spacecraft Center — now Johnson Space Center — in Houston, Texas for permission to keep the items they returned, along with other souvenirs such as their personal hygiene kits and the checklists they followed to navigate to and from the moon.

"We had an agreement with NASA management, that small items that didn't exceed our weight limitations, we could bring back," Mitchell told WPTV."

Problems arose when Mitchell put the camera up for auction -- nothing new there; astronauts have been selling space memorabilia since the 1990s.

The most recent development is that a U.S. district court judge has refused to throw out the case.

My reaction, which seems to mirror that of many comments on the Space.com site is, ....Seriously? NASA has nothing better to do than pursue an 80-year-old astronaut over a souvenir?

Note to NASA: You can't win this. Even if a court in some bizarre twist of logic decides in your favor on this one, you cannot possibly come out of this looking good. I hope some grownup at NASA quietly buries this thing.

Here is the original Space.com item and the follow up:

http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-070411a.html

http://www.space.com/13211-apollo-astronaut-moon-camera-lawsuit-update.html/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=SP_10102011

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Lee Teschler

Leland serves as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design. He has 34 years of Service and holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan, a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of...
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