NASA Sues Astronaut to Get Apollo 14 Lunar Camera Back

  • Share
  • Read Later

Edgar Mitchell, walking on the moon

Your plans to shoot your first film on a lunar camera from the 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission just got scuttled by NASA. As British auction house Bonhams prepared to sell the camera in a New York Space History Sale, NASA stepped in, claiming proper ownership of the camera.

Hailed as one of the two cameras used to explore the moon’s surface and labeled as “Movie Camera from the Lunar Surface,” the item came directly from the collection of pilot Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the moon (bonus points if you can name astronauts one through five). The camera was part of Apollo 14’s lunar module Antares. Apollo 14 ran a nine-day mission in 1971 under the command of Alan Shepard (hint: He’s the fifth person to walk on the moon).

A pre-sale estimate for the camera of $60,000-$80,000 isn’t a slam-dunk anymore for the now-retired astronaut who runs a website selling autographed photos. NASA says it requested the camera be returned to the agency numerous times, but Mitchell and his lawyer failed to even respond. In stepped a lawsuit.

(PHOTOS: History of the Space Shuttle Program)

“All equipment and property used during NASA operations remains the property of NASA unless explicitly released or transferred to another party,” the suit says. NASA claims it has no record of giving the camera a new owner. Mitchell’s lawyer, Donald Jacobson, claims NASA gave the camera away 40 years ago as a gift for helping with a successful mission.

There’s no word on the status of the second camera.

MORE: Shocking Find: Missing Moon Dust at Auction House