Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Judge Denies NASA Astronaut's Motion to Dismiss Moon Camera Lawsuit

This Data Acquisition Camera, which was flown to the moon's surface by Apollo 14 in 1971, is now the focus of a lawsuit against the astronaut who tried to sell it.
CREDIT: Bonhams

Just who owns a camera flown to the moon, the astronaut who saved it as a souvenir or the government that wanted it left on the lunar surface, will need to be settled in court, a judge ruled this week.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hurley denied Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell's motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought against him by the U.S. government last June. At contention, a 16-millimeter data acquisition camera (DAC) that Mitchell returned to Earth in 1971 and then attempted to sell 40 years later.

The government contended it has no record of the camera being given to Mitchell, who elected to remove it from the lunar module (LM) before parting ways with the spacecraft and returning to earth. The LM, which Mitchell and Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard used to land on and launch off the moon, was destroyed after it was allowed to fall back to the lunar surface.

Apollo 14 astronaut Ed Mitchell

Mitchell's attorney argued that too many years have gone by for the government to pursue the camera as stolen and besides, it was given to the now 80-year-old moonwalker as a gift in line with NASA's then-policies governing spent equipment.

Judge Hurley ruled that the statute of limitations as cited in Mitchell's motion and as defined by the state of Florida where the case is being heard did not apply to the federal government's claim.

No comments:

Post a Comment