Monday, October 31, 2011

NASA forces Apollo astronaut to give back space camera

Former astronaut Edgar Mitchell has reluctantly given back the space camera he brought home from his 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission, rather than face a federal lawsuit over its ownership.

The 81-year-old argued the data acquisition camera was a gift from NASA, and earlier this year - four decades after taking it to space - he tried to auction it through the British firm Bonhams.

NASA says the camera is U.S. government property and sued Mr Mitchell to get it back after learning in March the device was up for sale.

In papers filed Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami stated Mr Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, will 'relinquish all claims of ownership, legal title, or dominion' of the 16mm motion picture camera.

Mr Mitchell agreed to allow Bonhams' New York auction house, where the camera was consigned for sale last June, to release the artifact to the government. Bonhams had estimated the camera's value at $60,000 to $80,000.

Once returned to NASA, the space agency will pass it on to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington for display within 60 days.

Both sides will pay their own legal expenses. A judge was expected to sign off on the settlement in the coming days.

Mitchell’s attorney Armen R. Vartian said his client decided the settlement was the best way to resolve a conflict with NASA.

'I think both sides saw the lawsuit as something that should not continue,' he added.

Mr Mitchell is one of 12 humans to have walked on the moon. He later received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The data acquisition cameras (DAC), measuring six inches, by four inches by two inches, were taken into space to record engineering data and lunar surface imagery.

This particular camera was one of two that went to the moon's surface on the Apollo 14 mission, which Mr Mitchell piloted. It shot the final five minutes of the lunar module, named Antares, landing on the moon.

Diamond Studs

Read more

No comments: