NASA questions Apollo 13 commander’s sale of list

In the Mitchell lawsuit, his attorney argued prior to the settlement that NASA officials told astronauts long ago they could keep certain equipment from the missions, and many such items wind up on auction house lists. A 1972 NASA memo seems to back up that claim, requiring only that the astronauts provide the agency with lists of items in their possession.

Apollo 15 astronauts were reprimanded after they took unauthorized, special envelopes to the moon with stamps that were given a special postal marking shortly after their return in 1971. They had a deal with a German stamp dealer who later sold them for $1,500 each.

Last month, the NASA inspector general reported that since 1970, more than 500 pieces of moon rocks, meteorites, comet chunks and other space material have been stolen or gone missing. The report said NASA needs to keep better track of some 26,000 samples sent to researchers and museums or the agency runs greater risk they will be lost.

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