Apollo Astronaut Returns “Stolen” Camera

Article written: 29 Oct , 2011
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

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In a follow-up to a recent Universe Today article, Apollo astronaut and sixth-man-on-the-moon Ed Mitchell has agreed to return a lunar Data Acquisition Camera (DAC) that he kept from the Apollo 14 mission, rather than face a court date next year over a suit filed by NASA in June.

The 16mm camera was “rescued” from the Apollo 14 landing module by Mitchell as it was about to be released from the orbiter after the astronauts’ visit to the Moon in February 1971. The lander – with everything remaining in it – would later crash onto the Moon’s surface.

Not only did Mitchell consider it a waste of a valuable piece of historic equipment, but there was a then-standing policy that astronauts could keep certain items from their missions as mementos.

This Data Acquisition Camera (DAC) was one of two 16mm cameras on the Apollo 14 lunar module "Antares" when it landed on the moon on Feb, 5, 1971. Credit: FLSD

Mitchell had had the DAC until May 2010, when he put it and other items up for auction at New York’s Bonhams auction house as a part of their “Space History Sale”. It was at that time that NASA filed a suit against the 80-year-old Mitchell, claiming that he had no rightful ownership of the camera. Mitchell’s attempt to get the case dismissed was denied by a Florida district court judge earlier this month, who stated that there was no statute or jurisdiction on such cases, being filed by a federally-run organization.

Rather than go to court in October 2012, Mitchell agreed in district court this past Thursday to “relinquish all claims of ownership, legal title, or dominion” over the camera.

Mitchell and the federal prosecutors will each be responsible for their own legal fees.

Read the original Universe Today story here, and for more details see the article on collectSpace.com.

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21 Responses

  1. Anonymous says

    Hope it cost the Feds more than the camera is worth. For what ever it’s worth.

    • Anonymous says

      Sadly, WE are the Feds. Those in charge will spend all of our money they can get their hands onto and not think twice about it.

  2. If there was a then-standing policy that astronauts could keep certain items from their missions as mementos, I don’t see the big deal… Just another example of our tax dollars at work…

  3. Anonymous says

    NASA is being petty. Mr. Mitchell has had the camera; and they knew he had the camera, for several decades. The only reason they filed suit was because he wanted to auction it off. They have no need for the camera and they don’t want it. Shame on them. If they were upset about him keeping it, why didn’t they confiscate it when he brought it back instead of letting him keep it for 40 years?

  4. Member
    Anonymous says

    Dang.. if I had the extre lucre… I’d send Mr. Mitchell a couple hundred thousand, just because one of my heros might need it? Hint – hint..

    Here we go…
    Salary of retired US Presidents ………….$180,000 FOR
    LIFE
    Salary of House/Senate ………………………$174,000 FOR
    LIFE
    Salary of Speaker of the House …………..$223,500 FOR
    LIFE
    Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders …… $193,400 FOR
    LIFE

  5. Anonymous says

    Some bureaucrat at NASA had too much time on his hands. After forty years, what would have been the depreciated value of the camera? “Petty” is a good word to describe this farce.

  6. Checkers Crossfox says

    Screw NASA, they’re out of line. I’d have destroyed the thing rather than give it back. Maybe Congress -should- gut their funding if they’re going to be asshats.

  7. Anonymous says

    I know that this website is rather suspicious about anything related to a possible alien presence in our solar system. But if one of my heroes, mister Ed Mitchell, one of the 12 astronauts that made it to the moon and back talks openly about an alien presence for years now in public, I consider his camera thing as a direct attack on him as a person. Because he has probably broken the secrecy rules of the NASA. How is it possible that we the people don’t trust our own heroes anymore. What’s wrong with you to ridicule such a brave person, that risks his own name and fame by just telling what he knows about such an important topic. That NASA even considers to ridicule their own heroes in public about that stupid camera, proves that there security matrix is on the point of collapse. NASAGATE is coming.

  8. Anonymous says

    I know that this website is rather suspicious about anything related to a possible alien presence in our solar system. But if one of my heroes, mister Ed Mitchell, one of the 12 astronauts that made it to the moon and back talks openly about an alien presence for years now in public, I consider his camera thing as a direct attack on him as a person. Because he has probably broken the secrecy rules of the NASA. How is it possible that we the people don’t trust our own heroes anymore. What’s wrong with you to ridicule such a brave person, that risks his own name and fame by just telling what he knows about such an important topic. That NASA even considers to ridicule their own heroes in public about that stupid camera, proves that there security matrix is on the point of collapse.

  9. Anonymous says

    I know that this website is rather suspicious about anything related to a possible alien presence in our solar system. But if one of my heroes, mister Ed Mitchell, one of the 12 astronauts that made it to the moon and back talks openly about an alien presence for years now in public, I consider his camera thing as a direct attack on him as a person. Because he has probably broken the secrecy rules of the NASA. How is it possible that we the people don’t trust our own heroes anymore. What’s wrong with you to ridicule such a brave person, that risks his own name and fame by just telling what he knows about such an important topic. That NASA even considers to ridicule their own heroes in public about that stupid camera, proves that there security matrix is on the point of collapse.

  10. Anonymous says

    I know that this website is rather suspicious about anything related to a possible alien presence in our solar system. But if one of my heroes, mister Ed Mitchell, one of the 12 astronauts that made it to the moon and back talks openly about an alien presence for years now in public, I consider his camera thing as a direct attack on him as a person. Because he has probably broken the secrecy rules of the NASA. How is it possible that we the people don’t trust our own heroes anymore. What’s wrong with you to ridicule such a brave person, that risks his own name and fame by just telling what he knows about such an important topic. That NASA even considers to ridicule their own heroes in public about that stupid camera, proves that there security matrix is on the point of collapse.

    • Anonymous says

      No one is claiming here that alien life does not exist in this solar system. However most People here have basic sceptical knowledge to know when a conspiracy is completely moronic.

      • Anonymous says

        I don’t think that Mister Ed Mitchel is moron. If that would be the case, I don’t think he would have made it to the moon. To be skeptic is ok. But to stigmatize people because they say something that does not fit the limited worldview in the time they lives is an attitude that killed revolutionary scientists over the ages.
        Some scientists behave like the inquisition in the middle ages when anybody puts the alien question on the table. This you are with us or you are against us mentality, doesn’t belong in the 21 century. Grow up.

      • Anonymous says

        You clearly have not read not understood what I have written.

      • Anonymous says

        You are right. I must be a real idiot that I would not understand nor read what you wanted to say in your comment. So I made an in deep study of your profound words. You wrote: No one is claiming here that alien life does not exist in this solar system. I think you mean that it is very probable that microbial life could exist on Mars, and maybe on one of the moons of Jupiter, Europe and very maybe on Titan. Then you write, However most People here have basic skeptical knowledge. I think you mean that the most members of the Universe today community are well educated in astronomy, exobiology, statistics, physics etc. I hope this really is the case. So they are very skeptical in protecting these sciences and don’t accept information that is not backed by scientific prove. I completely understand that point of view. But then you say: to know when a conspiracy is completely moronic : And indeed. Maybe I misinterpreted these words. What conspiracy? Where conspiracy? I guess that with conspiracy you point to my suggestion that fact one: Mister Ed Mitchell talks openly for years now about human extra terrestrials that visited our solar system and fact two: The disgusting attitude of the NASA towards one of their most important employees of the last century about a stupid camera, that these two facts are linked or have something to do with one another. Could it be that this is what you mean? Well then, if that would be the case that you mean just that, than we are not talking about science. Than we talk about a possible relation between two facts that do not necessary have to be related. I agree that I cannot prove that there is a relation between these two facts. But it is my personal opinion that there is a very high probability that there is a link. But because we cannot prove this in a scientific way, it will be just my opinion and you have your own opinion. I have no problem with that. But maybe universe today is able to ask this to mister Ed Mitchell himself? He is an astronaut. He walked on the moon. He is an icon of space exploration. I don’t think he would refuse an interview with universe today. But wait a minute. There we have a problem. Because mister Ed Mitchell would maybe talk about alien visitors on planet earth. And we don’t want that to be happening on universe today isn’t it. Because who would look like a moron than. And so the circle is round. Case closed.

      • Anonymous says

        Nope, try again.No where did I write about Ed Mitchell.

      • Paul storey says

        Mathieu4u2 Whilst the previous post was a marvel of analysis the fact that you cannot discern that Olaf2 is inferring if not outright saying that you are the moron for sugesting a conspiracy on the part of NASA, somewhat diminishes your intellectual superiority.

  11. Anonymous says

    If the government people want the camera back, then Ed Mitchell should ensure that the camera is in the same condition as they expected it to be in at this time, namely pulverized well beyond all recognition to the average viewer. I’d present them with a box of crushed and melted electronics, well mixed with dirt. Shame on them.

    Michael O’Brien

  12. Moj says

    I guess since NASA is out of the “manned missions to space” business they have nothing better to do that to go after retired astronauts and retrieve space junk. Proves my point that small minds are NOT in short supply and our values are in the gutter. Shame on you NASA!

    Michael Mojo

  13. Michael Franklin says

    Up until this event, I have always supported NASA… even though they’ve become one of the worst bureaucracies in our nation. But this was a horrid act. I hope congress fully defunds this agency and then hopefully, the private sector will put a human face back on the concept of man in space.

  14. SRS says

    This is a travesty, PLEASE DON’T JUST COMMENT ABOUT IT… WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN TO SPONSOR A BILL TO RETURN THIS CAMERA TO HIM…

    By doing so, we can turn this wrong in to a right.

    I have done so, and if enough of us do it, then before he passes on he will have the camera back in his hands.

    Shame on NASA for doing this to a National Hero.

Comments are closed.