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  NASA inquiry halts sale of astronauts' artifacts (Page 3)

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Author Topic:   NASA inquiry halts sale of astronauts' artifacts
ilbasso
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posted 01-06-2012 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The phrase we've not been discussing here is "curatorial value." That indicates to me that NASA is as concerned about preservation of historical artifacts in an intact state. Perhaps they feel that these items would stand a better chance of surviving for the study and appreciation by future generations if the items go to public institutions rather than private collectors.

Perhaps NASA shares the concern that many of us have expressed about the "confettization" of checklists and other flown items of historical significance by collectors and dealers.

I think that they are also trying to make a public stance now. Consider all the astronauts who are in their 80's at present, who haven't sold any items at auction (e.g., Neil Armstrong) or donated papers or items to universities or museums. NASA is perhaps trying to establish a precedent now to preserve what's left of the artifacts in the astronauts' hands.

Perhaps their intent and message is something along the lines of "you astronauts were temporary custodians of the items from your missions. When you don't want them any more, the Government has first right of refusal."

Greggy_D
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posted 01-06-2012 08:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jimsz:
That you are aware of.
Robert is correct. NASA stopped the practice after 51L. Thus, astronaut "owned" flown shuttle checklists only exist for 24 flights, STS-1 thru STS-61C.

drifting to the right
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posted 01-06-2012 09:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for drifting to the right     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Do we know of another example of an astronaut keeping his training gloves, such that he could give one away?
Your post regarding my concern for unflown artifacts is unclear to me. If, for example, I were to own a high-end A7L training component, purchased in good faith at a prior auction, the current situation would be less than reassuring.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The question is one of provenance. In the case of Lovell's and Schweickart's questioned items, the chain of custody is clear, and for all three artifacts there is precedence to establish (or at least attempt to establish) title.

The glove is different. Here we have an unknown, third party consignor claiming the glove was a gift from an astronaut. But was that astronaut ever in the position to make such a gift?

In your example, the question would still be one of provenance. What was the chain of custody for the A7L training component? Did it originate at NASA or was it sourced from ILC? Did it come from an astronaut's collection or a surplus sale? These are the questions that matter.

mjanovec
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posted 01-06-2012 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
After the loss of Challenger (if not earlier), NASA enforced a policy that astronauts could not retain their checklists.

The question is, did that policy extend back to the Apollo era, even if it was unenforced? And was that policy ever clearly communicated to the astronauts?

I could understand NASA's concern if they were addressing an isolated case of an astronaut keeping a checklist that was clearly expected to be returned to the agency after the flight. But it appears many, perhaps most, Apollo astronauts kept their checklists...with little to no concern paid by NASA as to who truly owned the checklists. Surely at some point before now NASA would have asserted ownership over those checklists if they truly felt the astronauts had taken them without permission. Indeed, even the Apollo 15 scandal (where astronauts profited by selling items carried aboard their mission) did not appear to prompt NASA to assert tighter control over other flown items, such as checklists.

The irony is that these checklists may be increasingly more valuable as it's becoming apparent to the public that NASA may never fly manned missions to the moon again...at least in our lifetimes. These artifacts now symbolize a time when the agency (and the nation) was bold enough to take risks for the progress of mankind.

kyra
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posted 01-06-2012 11:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ilbasso:
Perhaps their intent and message is something along the lines of "you astronauts were temporary custodians of the items from your missions. When you don't want them any more, the Government has first right of refusal."
I've reconsidered my original stance and believe this to be the intent of the NASA OIG. It seems that many of these items (spacesuit parts) were on long-term loan that didn't make clear when or where these items should be returned. In my opinion, NASA did this with the hopes of good public relations. The items would make suitable props for lectures and school visits and items such as checklists and flight plans would also help them write memoirs for additional good PR.

It was not foreseen there would be a day that they would be selling items for prices that would equal a car or a house in a type of "bubble" or split and dispersed. I might add these prices were created by a confluence of factors. The supply/demand law within the collecting community,and the collectors/investors (not even space collectors per se) desire for tangible items with inflation and even the "end of an era" in space with the retirement of the shuttle all played parts.

These high dollar amounts in turn promoted a higher profile negative publicity that got the attention of the OIG. For every congratulations within the collecting community there were just as many or more remarks made in surprise and shock on the sidelines for "That should be in a museum!" and "They let him keep that?!".

Again, these are just my observations and opinions. I will leave this with a rhetorical "Are private collectors (including astronauts) better curators than a museum or national archive? What is your experience in getting access to both types? How are you doing as a curator of a flown object if you have one?"

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 11:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Indeed, even the Apollo 15 scandal (where astronauts profited by selling items carried aboard their mission) did not appear to prompt NASA to assert tighter control over other flown items, such as checklists.
It sure did. It was the fallout from the Apollo 15 congressional investigation that led to NASA not only establishing its first written rules governing what the astronauts could and could not keep, but led to a wholesale revision in 1978, which in turn led to the post-1986 policy prohibiting astronauts from keeping their flight documents.

Granted, it didn't seem to have much of a retroactive effect, but by 1978 a majority of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts had already left NASA.

xlsteve
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posted 01-06-2012 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for xlsteve   Click Here to Email xlsteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
I think the General Counsel's actions in this regard are without any consideration for the precedent already set, and worse, demonstrate a serious lack of knowledge about the history of the agency it serves.

Ineed, I think one of my rules of life applies here: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

I think there might be some misplaced anger on this issue, and frustration over the (perceived) state of the human space program is bubbling over. As Robert has explained nothing has been done but request information. I know that logically begs the question of why the information was requested and what will be done with it, but until there are further developments all we can provide is conjecture at this point even those with personal experience in this area.

I agree that this has not been handled very well thus far, and it is turning into a bit of a publicity issue for the agency, but I will reserve judgement until I see what is ulitimately done, not what I think might be done.

thump
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posted 01-06-2012 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for thump   Click Here to Email thump     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ilbasso:
Perhaps NASA shares the concern that many of us have expressed about the "confettization" of checklists and other flown items of historical significance by collectors and dealers.
I am also curious if this may have played a factor/role in NASA looking into some of these auctions and items...

mjanovec
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posted 01-06-2012 12:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
It sure did. It was the fallout from the Apollo 15 congressional investigation that led to NASA not only establishing its first written rules governing what the astronauts could and could not keep, but led to a wholesale revision in 1978, which in turn led to the post-1986 policy prohibiting astronauts from keeping their flight documents.

I'm not saying the Apollo 15 scandal didn't have any effect on what the astronauts could keep. My argument is that if NASA believed the checklists were already their property in the early 1970s, they should have clarified that immediately after the Apollo 15 scandal...so the astronauts flying on the remaining Apollo missions didn't keep their checklists. Instead, it appears they didn't decide (and communicate) that checklists were their property until 1986, long after the Apollo program was over.

So why are they now asking Lovell and/or Heritage to prove ownership of a checklist that pre-dates their own policies by 16 years? And if the policies were meant to be retroactive, why didn't they send out a letter to all Apollo (and Shuttle) astronauts in 1986 requiring the return of any flight documents they may have in their possession?

NASA's own actions prior to 1986 make it seem perfectly clear that they didn't assert any ownership over these documents.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 01:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
So why are they now asking Lovell and/or Heritage to prove ownership of a checklist that pre-dates their own policies by 16 years?
Just as the General Counsel seemed to be unaware that the LM ID plates were flown in the astronauts' PPKs and that an ASHUR document existed for the hand controllers, it's possible that they assumed that the current policy was always the policy.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 01:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
I was just interviewed about this for CBS News Radio.
You can listen to my interview with Peter King here (mp3).

Schoner
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posted 01-06-2012 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Schoner   Click Here to Email Schoner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by kyra:
These high dollar amounts in turn promoted a higher profile negative publicity that got the attention of the OIG.
What is wrong about these, otherwise artifacts, shortly after the mission not having much if any monetary value and now bringing in mega bucks?

Big dollar values ensure that they will be cared for, just as much as paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. They were considered worthless at the time that he painted them, no one bought them, and they were passed down by those that appreciated his work only to be auctioned off by the owners starting in the '70's when the prices for his work rose. Now many of the rich owners have granted them to museums where all can see them.

And that will happen to these Apollo artifacts, too. Eventually those that have the money to buy them, care for them, will eventually place them into museums for all to see.

I think, from the PR sense, what NASA is doing is counter-productive, and what they are doing now tarnishes their image in the public's mind.

I have been flowing the PR on this issue and it is not good.

chet
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posted 01-06-2012 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by xlsteve:
I agree that this has not been handled very well thus far, and it is turning into a bit of a publicity issue for the agency, but I will reserve judgement until I see what is ultimately done, not what I think might be done.
No need to reserve judgement in this case (unless, of course, you want to) because the outrageousness of what NASA is doing here is pretty clear cut. Obviously they don't have, or don't know how to access, documentation they might have showing who might have clear title to the artifacts "in question." In the absence of such evidence they are now laying claim to items they didn't care about or bother checking on for 40 or so years.

(Imagine buying a Ford Mustang in 1965 and housing it in your garage since then. You can no longer find the pink slip but are thrilled when someone offers you $50,000 for it. After the sale gets mentioned in a local newspaper a letter arrives from Ford telling you unless you can produce that pink slip you must return the car to them. Pretty outrageous, isn't it? Your tax dollars hard at work, my friends.)

kyra
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posted 01-06-2012 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Schoner:
Eventually those that have the money to buy them, care for them, will eventually place them into museums for all to see.
I agree with some of your points and I dearly hope that all of these items end up in museums in some form and not hidden, lost, destroyed, divided, disposed of by accident or accidentally on purpose (insurance scams) in the meanwhile. We still have the same end goal, I believe, of seeing these items safe and in a place to be admired and studied.

My issue is I am reluctant to trust this natural evolution as in the with the Van Gogh's works to happen and in a reasonably timely manner. I am unsure who has the better principles (the OIG or the private collector/investor). It's a very grey area at best as I see it.

If you would all pitch in comments let's all try to understand what each side truly is thinking. What does the $300,000 checklist buyer think about his purchase? Does he/she really love space and care about its preservation or is it like an ancient Ming vase would have sufficed if he could get it for a deal?

Likewise, what did the GC initiator really think? Does she share the same goals as us and is misguided as to how to accomplish it? Or is she doing it to climb a ladder politically or merely struggling to hold his place and taking orders from higher authority?

And in both cases does it matter? What is the end result?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chet:
No need to reserve judgement in this case (unless, of course, you want to) because the outrageousness of what NASA is doing here is pretty clear cut.
I think we can, and perhaps even should, reserve judgement until such time NASA responds to Lovell's and Schweickart's responses to the the General Counsel's request. If the GC or OIG accept the astronauts' replies and move on, then what NASA has done isn't so clearly cut outrageous.

We can (and have and should) point out where the GC stumbled in its job, but that doesn't require we vilify them in the process.

quote:
Originally posted by kyra:
If you would all pitch in comments let's all try to understand what each side truly is thinking.
Without actually talking to the winning bidder and to the Deputy General Counsel, I think it does both a disservice to try to put words or thoughts in their mouths or minds. As mentioned earlier, let's try to keep this topic to the facts, as they are released and known.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 03:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have just heard from Jim Lovell (and with his permission to share):
We are seeking a meeting with NASA administration to clear up this misunderstanding.

Greggy_D
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posted 01-06-2012 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, are you able to share the contents of the letter yet? I believe the wording will offer us all a great deal of insight into the intentions of NASA.

machbusterman
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posted 01-06-2012 04:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for machbusterman   Click Here to Email machbusterman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by james f. ruddy:
Mr. Pearlman is doing a fine job in informing us about NASA's actions. Let him do his work without criticizing NASA.
No one is denying Robert does a fine job in keeping collectors/enthusiasts informed but to say no one should criticise NASA for their actions verges on the dictatorial. Far be it for anyone to call into question the organization that has made many wrong calls over the years. NASA isn't perfect... far from it!

chet
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posted 01-06-2012 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
May we even dare to hope Lovell's meeting will set clear guidelines for collectors going forward, or must there be a guessing game before and after each auction as to which items NASA will target each time around?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 05:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Greggy_D:
I believe the wording will offer us all a great deal of insight into the intentions of NASA.
I would caution against trying to read too much into the wording or tone of the letter and concentrate more on what NASA has gone on the record to say since the letter was sent.

And I would point out that this was written from a deputy general counsel in a field office to the auction house's counsel; it was not addressed to the astronauts nor makes any mention of them.

Dear Heritage Auctions Counsel,

I have been informed by the NASA Office of Inspector General (IG), that you have several space related items you intend to offer it for auction. Specifically, I have noted listed on your web site:

  • Alan Shepard Training Used Apollo A7L Left IVA Glove
  • Apollo 9 Lunar Module Flown LM-3 Spacecraft Identification Plate
  • Apollo 13 Flown LM Systems Activation Checklist Book
  • Apollo 9 Flown Command Module Rotational Hand Controller
Please be advised that the only NASA has the authority to clear NASA property for sale. NASA retains title to its property until it is properly dispositioned, so that it is no longer owned by NASA.

In this case there is nothing to indicate that ownership of or title to the above items was transferred from NASA to any individual or entity. Therefore, if you have evidence of clear title to the above items, request you so inform me and provide it as soon as possible.

Please be advised that this matter is being turned over to the NASA Office of Inspector General and that there is potential risk of the items being seized by the government until title issues have been resolved.

spaced out
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posted 01-06-2012 05:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regarding the Apollo 9 LM spacecraft id plate...

Unfortunately I don't have a similar image of the Apollo 9 crew, but here's a shot from the Retro Space Images' Apollo 13 set showing the Apollo 13 crew at Grumman's Bethpage plant after the flight:

Apart from the LM spacecraft id plate in the guy's hand Fred Haise seems to be holding another presentation of some piece of hardware. Anyone recognize that?

Incidentally, in my humble opinion this shows an official presentation ceremony, which I can't help thinking NASA were well aware of, rather than those dastardly astronauts grabbing some loot before sneaking it away to their stash.

Unless... there's another of the gang (Mattingly maybe?) standing off camera with a gun, and Lovell's saying, "Yeah that's it. Hand it over nice and easy now. Keep smiling and keep your hands where we can see 'em and no-one's gonna get hurt."

Leon Ford
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posted 01-06-2012 05:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Leon Ford   Click Here to Email Leon Ford     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would be interested to know what NASA thought happened to this property that the astronauts are now selling. Did they think the astronauts were holding on to the property for NASA? Did they think the items had been trashed? Did NASA think the Smithsonian had the items? Did NASA ever ask the astronauts what items or artifacts they might have from their missions?

I just don't understand that if NASA didn't know the astronauts had this stuff and never asked them if they had these items, why do they want it back now? And why do they only want some things back and not others?

mjanovec
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posted 01-06-2012 05:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
it's possible that they assumed that the current policy was always the policy.
That would be an incredibly weak excuse by any standard. If they couldn't be bothered to learn the history of their own policies before policing them, they should hire someone who can.
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
I would caution against trying to read too much into the wording or tone of the letter and concentrate more on what NASA has gone on the record to say since the letter was sent.
The wording and tone of the letter is not a trivial matter. It clearly states that Heritage should provide proof of ownership or risk having the items seized. It appears the tone is meant to be intimidating.

If NASA is backtracking on their message (or how they deliver it) after the fact, it only demonstrates an inconsistent approach to handling this situation.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Leon Ford:
Did they think the astronauts were holding on to the property for NASA?
There were items that NASA discussed providing the astronauts on loan only. These included rock hammers, the LEVA assemblies, lunar overshoes and the spacecraft hand controllers.

I say "discussed" because the only references I have to the loans are in letters that precede any final decision.

For many years though, the astronauts were permitted to retain their Omega Speedmasters, but they were transferred by NASA to the Smithsonian even though the astronauts still had physical possession of them. Today, the few that still have their watches, have them on loan from the Smithsonian.

Leon Ford
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posted 01-06-2012 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Leon Ford   Click Here to Email Leon Ford     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have heard the "loan" argument myself, mostly on the hand controllers. Those were presented to the astronauts after the mission. I haven't found an astronaut yet that signed any kind of a loan agreement with NASA for any of the hand controllers. Are there copies of these loan agreements somewhere? It would seem they would be part of the public record.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 05:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With regards to Lovell's checklist, here's a bit of support for the astronauts having title to their flight documents.

The Apollo 11 Command Module Operations Checklist and Launch Operations Checklist are identified as having been donated to the National Air and Space Museum by Michael Collins.

Whereas the Alternate and Contingency Checklist from the same mission was transferred by NASA.

So, the Smithsonian recognizes Michael Collins as having had title to transfer to the checklists to its collection as opposed to NASA, which it recognizes separately.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 06:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Leon Ford:
Are there copies of these loan agreements somewhere?
I haven't seen any such written agreements but I have heard astronauts say they do remember receiving items from NASA on long-term, open-ended loans.

chet
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posted 01-06-2012 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...what NASA has gone on the record to say since the letter was sent.
What exactly has NASA said, on the record, since this letter was sent that collectors might find at all encouraging going forward?

SpaceAholic
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posted 01-06-2012 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been informed by the NASA Office of Inspector General (IG), that you have several space related items you intend to offer it for auction.
This appears to have crafted prior to the auction.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chet:
What exactly has NASA said, on the record, since this letter was sent that collectors might find at all encouraging going forward?
NASA said it was not claiming ownership on any of the four items in question, which is a subtle but important difference from some of its past actions.

NASA also said that it is looking to be proactive moving forward, finding a way to work with the Apollo astronauts to avoid future situations like this.

(Granted, the latter has yet to appear in print, but it was said to me during an on the record interview.)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 07:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaced out:
Unfortunately I don't have a similar image of the Apollo 9 crew, but here's a shot from the Retro Space Images' Apollo 13 set showing the Apollo 13 crew at Grumman's Bethpage plant after the flight.
Good find... I had the same idea earlier this week and had looked through the Apollo 9 and Apollo 10 discs for a similar photo but after not finding one, gave up. Glad you didn't!

I also tried a Google News archive search to see if there might have been local coverage of the Apollo 9 crew coming to Bethpage. No luck there either, though there are other news archives still to search.

chet
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posted 01-06-2012 07:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As Scott notes, if that letter was sent in sufficient time prior to the auction, Heritage had a duty to inform bidders of the potential complications.

That being said, this warning from a NASA representative seems part and parcel of their scattershot application of haphazard policies, and seems deliberately vague, especially with regard to NASA having done its own due diligence before sending out such an ominous sounding communique. The only thing not vague about it was its self-serving tone.

Collectors can only hope that any NASA promises to be "proactive" (whatever that means) in similar future instances will be in good faith and memorialized in writing, so that clarifying specifications will clearly apply to future generations taking possession of these important artifacts, and not just the astronauts themselves.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-06-2012 07:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The letter (e-mail) may have been drafted prior to the auction but was dated Dec. 1.

It may have also been wording from a template because according to NASA, the OIG was not involved until being notified by the General Counsel.

YankeeClipper
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posted 01-06-2012 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Given the scale of international media coverage of this auction, the subsequent handling of this issue by NASA is rapidly turning into a global PR disaster e.g. the comments on the UK's Daily Telegraph story of this investigation/inquiry.

This reflects extremely poorly on NASA as there is a developing perception that the agency is persecuting its Apollo heroes. Unfortunately, this is symptomatic of large organisations that lack "institutional memory" and/or adequate procedural and documentation controls. As the gentleman said, perhaps not malice but ineptitude.

In both the case of the A13 Checklist and A14 Camera, it was ultimately astronaut actions that prevented the complete destruction of these precious artifacts. It seems highly ironic that NASA was ashamed of the A13 mission failure in the post-flight period but only now seeks to value and retrieve a checklist now that the auction process has established its importance and monetary value. That's deeply hypocritical and utterly reprehensible.

The primary motivation behind these and other inquiries may be noble i.e. the reacquisition and preservation of history, but the manner of execution of NASA's actions is quite simply appalling, the treatment of Ed Mitchell being particularly deplorable. It would appear that all of this is really being driven by NASA's shame over its lax procedural controls and loss of lunar samples and this is being selectively retroactively applied to other high value/profile artifacts.

Perhaps someone should remind NASA's first Attorney Of The Year, Donna Shafer, who joined NASA long after Apollo, of the importance of due diligence and respect. You can't atone for an agency's sins of omission and past failures by retroactively applying current policy to a previous era. If NASA wants to honor its past and preserve its future, then it should get back in the manned spaceflight business and stop persecuting pioneering legends.

4allmankind
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Posts: 819
From: NJ
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 01-06-2012 09:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just found this through a Google images 'Apollo 13 Checklist' search.

The Apollo 13 LM Lunar Surface checklist was gifted from the crew to it's author. The author eventually donated it to Space Center Houston. You can see from the inscription on the cover (would that be Haise's writing?) that they had given him the book as a thank you/memento.

Rizz
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Posts: 1208
From: Upcountry, Maui, Hawaii
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 01-06-2012 11:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This whole fiasco is the prelude to what the government did in 1933 with gold. "Reportable" transactions equals "confiscation".

Well done NASA.

Tykeanaut
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Posts: 1894
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 01-07-2012 04:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would appear that NASA know the cost of everything (now) and the value of nothing.

gliderpilotuk
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Posts: 3251
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 01-07-2012 09:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Times (UK) today has a small article on these antics and a photo of the checklist.

Rick Mulheirn
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Posts: 2792
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 01-07-2012 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The cases highlighted recently by the Lovell and Mitchell affairs suggest the prospect of an imminent sale is what triggers NASA's interest.

When I think back to the hundreds of outstanding artifacts I remember seeing in the Superior and Aurora auction catalogues of the late 80s through early 2000's it beggars belief that there would be any attempt to confiscate items the current custodians have no intestion of selling.


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