New Law Lets Astronauts Keep (or Sell) Their Space ArtifactsNews Flash Friday, September 28th, 2012
(MSNBC) America’s early space pioneers and moon voyagers have now been confirmed as the legal owners of the equipment and spacecraft parts they saved as souvenirs from their missions.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed a bill into law granting NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo crew members “full ownership rights” to the artifacts they received and retained more than 40 years ago.
The legislation (H.R. 4158) was authored in response to recent challenges raised by NASA’s General Counsel and Office of Inspector General (OIG) over the attempted sale by several astronauts of their mementos. The issue came to a head in January after an inquiry by the space agency put a hold on the almost $400,000 auction of a checklist used by Apollo 13 commander James Lovell.
The bill clarifies what NASA Administrator Charles Bolden described as “fundamental misunderstandings and unclear policies.”
“NASA is pleased ownership of flight mementos and other artifacts of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts is no longer in question,” NASA spokesman Robert Jacobs said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “We appreciate the expeditious consideration by Congress to clarify ownership of these mementos and the patience of the astronauts, museums, learning institutions, and others who have these artifacts (from) the astronauts in personal and private collections.”