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Forum:Hardware & Flown Items
Topic:Congress ruling on astronauts' rights to artifacts
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Throughout the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, NASA managers routinely allowed astronauts, at the conclusion of a mission, to keep mementos, pieces of hardware, and personal equipment from the spacecraft. However, beginning in the mid-2000s, NASA began to challenge the ownership of these artifacts by Apollo-era astronauts. As a result, rightful ownership of artifacts has been brought into question, exposing astronauts to possible damages if ownership is not clearly established.

H.R. 4158 confirms full ownership rights of these mementos, but specifically excludes lunar rocks and material. The bill was introduced by Chairman Hall and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), along with 33 bipartisan cosponsors, including 25 Members of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Leon FordThe Senate passed the bill this morning at 3:45 a.m. It's now up to the President to sign the bill or not.
Robert PearlmanPresident Obama signed this legislation into law on Tuesday (Sept. 25). Article to come...
rjurek349As a collector of space flown artifacts, sourced from many of the astronauts' collections, I applaud the signing of the bill! Congratulations to ALL the people who worked so hard behind the scenes, from collectors to astronauts to the ASF, to get this done. It was no small task, and achieved in an amazing amount of time. My deepest gratitude to all involved. Way to go!
Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
New law says astronauts can keep (or sell) their space artifacts

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 (Sept. 25) 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.

Rick MulheirnWould the new legislation allow Dr. Mitchell to ask for the return of the DAC camera that was prompted much of the debate?
Robert PearlmanAs noted earlier in this thread, I don't believe so, given that he had reached a settlement with the government before the legislation was introduced. I believe he would need to return to the courts to overturn the settlement.

New laws, unless specifically stated, are generally not retroactive in their actions.

YankeeClipperFull-time score:

Astronauts 1 NASA Counsel 0

I'm sure Neil Armstrong's passing in late August helped focus minds to do the right thing, and quickly.

I doubt, though, there will be any retractions or apologies to Ed Mitchell for the derogatory comments some people made on some online news reports regarding his camera.

Robert PearlmanAs a follow-up, I asked NASA about Mitchell and the DAC camera. They confirmed: the law is not retroactive and the camera is now the property of the Smithsonian.

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