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  Congress ruling on astronauts' rights to artifacts

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Author Topic:   Congress ruling on astronauts' rights to artifacts
Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-30-2012 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology
Full Committee Markup of H.R. 4158
2318 Rayburn HOB Washington, DC 20515 | Aug 2, 2012 9:30am

The Committee will meet to consider the following measure, or for other purposes:

H.R. 4158 - To confirm full ownership rights for certain United States astronauts to artifacts from the astronauts' space missions

Full text of H.R. 4158:
To confirm full ownership rights for certain United States astronauts to artifacts from the astronauts' space missions.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Section 1. Definition Of Artifact.

For purposes of this Act, the term `artifact' means, with respect to an astronaut described in section 2(a), any expendable item utilized in missions for the Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo programs through the completion of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project not expressly required to be returned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the completion of the mission and other expendable, disposable, or personal-use items utilized by such astronaut during participation in any such program. The term includes personal logs, checklists, flight manuals, prototype and proof test articles used in training, and disposable flight hardware salvaged from jettisoned lunar modules. The term does not include lunar rocks and other lunar material.

Sec. 2. Full Ownership Of Artifacts.

(a) In General- A United States astronaut who participated in any of the Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo programs through the completion of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, who received an artifact during his participation in any such program, shall have full ownership of and clear title to such artifact.

(b) No Federal Government Claim- The Federal Government shall have no claim or right to ownership, control, or use of any artifact in possession of an astronaut as described in subsection (a) or any such artifact that was subsequently transferred, sold, or assigned to a third party by an astronaut described in subsection (a).

Editor's note: For the history, discussion and debate over the events that led to this legislation, please see: NASA inquiry halts sale of astronauts' artifacts. Please limit discussion within this topic to the legislation itself.

cycleroadie
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From: Apalachin, NY USA
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posted 07-30-2012 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cycleroadie   Click Here to Email cycleroadie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's great news for the astronauts! And that's the way it should have been all along, too bad NASA didn't see it this way and Congress had to step in.

garymilgrom
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posted 07-30-2012 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is good news for both astronauts and collectors. The terms disposable flight hardware salvaged from jettisoned lunar modules seem to directly address Ed Mitchell's DAC camera situation.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-30-2012 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To be clear, the bill applies to artifacts like the DAC camera, but not the camera itself. Mitchell reached a legal settlement with the government in that case, and by itself, this bill would not overturn that agreement.

David Carey
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posted 07-30-2012 01:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent progress and thank you for the update Robert. I've written my congressman, who happens to be a co-sponsor on the bill, and encouraged enactment of the measure for all the reasons discussed on cS.

chet
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From: Beverly Hills, Calif.
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 07-30-2012 05:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Passage would be nice; hope this doesn't just wind up as some rider or amendment to a bill that gets scrapped.

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-30-2012 08:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I still think inclusion of qualifier terms "Expendable" and "Disposable" in the bill are problematic; the affiliated definition excludes a great deal of flown CM hardware which has made its way into collectors hands.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
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posted 07-31-2012 08:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is word tonight that the full committee markup planned for Thursday (Aug. 2) may be postponed until after Congress returns from recess in September.

Will update if/when the House of Representatives revises their schedule.

Update: The markup has now been officially postponed.

chet
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posted 08-01-2012 11:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazing that such legislation is necessary at all. (Technically it isn't necessary, but clarification sometimes is when reasonableness is in short supply).

Of course (and as Scott has pointed out), the language of the bill, as currently worded, could still allow actions by bureaucrats like those that led to the call for something to be done in the first place. If the wording isn't cleaned up before passage (if it ever happens), we could wind up right back at square one after the dust settles.

music_space
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From: Canada
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posted 08-02-2012 01:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Speaking of dust, could Bean and others still be litigated for dust-embedded items?

chet
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From: Beverly Hills, Calif.
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posted 08-02-2012 01:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Certainly not in Bean's case. Lunar dust embedded in items where title is clear aren't subject to "recapture", and Bean's ownership of his uniform's patches isn't disputed.

But even more, the dust from those patches isn't even really retrievable (unless the Government wants to try to repossess the paintings with the embedded dust - and that seems a step too far, even for them).

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
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posted 09-19-2012 07:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The House of Representatives will vote later today (Sept. 19) on H.R. 4158 under suspension of the rules.
Bills brought up under suspension of the rules are referred to as "suspensions." The purpose of considering bills under suspension is to dispose of non-controversial measures expeditiously.
The bill is expected to pass the House with broad bipartisan support. To become law, it must also pass the Senate.

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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posted 09-19-2012 10:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And secure the president's signature.

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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posted 09-19-2012 09:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4158 today (Sept. 19)
House Passes Bill to Clarify Astronaut Ownership of Mementos from Apollo-Era Space Missions

The House of Representatives today unanimously approved H.R. 4158, a bipartisan bill introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) to confirm full ownership rights to artifacts received by Apollo-era astronauts from their space missions.

Describing the bill, Chairman Hall said, "This bill seeks to eliminate any further ambiguity about Apollo-era artifacts that were received by the astronauts. It simply says that astronauts who flew through the end of the Apollo program will be granted full right of ownership of any artifacts received from their missions."

"These men are heroes," Hall continued. "They took extraordinary risks to establish American preeminence in space, and by doing so helped our country become a world leader. I think it is a miscarriage of justice that today NASA should seek return of these very same mementos and keepsakes."

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 Ford
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From: Shreveport, LA, United States
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posted 09-22-2012 07:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Leon Ford   Click Here to Email Leon Ford     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The 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 Pearlman
Editor

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posted 09-26-2012 11:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
President Obama signed this legislation into law on Tuesday (Sept. 25). Article to come...

rjurek349
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posted 09-26-2012 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As 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 Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-26-2012 04:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
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 Mulheirn
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From: England
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posted 09-26-2012 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Would the new legislation allow Dr. Mitchell to ask for the return of the DAC camera that was prompted much of the debate?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29337
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-26-2012 04:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As 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.

YankeeClipper
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posted 09-26-2012 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Full-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 Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-27-2012 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As 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.

All times are CT (US)

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