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Author Topic:   STS-107 moratorium on autographs
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 28435
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-01-2003 03:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I posted the following earlier today:

Collectors, please join us in a moratorium on the sale of autographs from the crew and of course, a boycott of fragments that may make it to sites like eBay.


The question has been raised, what is an appropropriate moratorium? What do you think?


Posts: 836
From: Lafayette, CA
Registered: Oct 2001

posted 02-01-2003 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert -

Do you have the text of that statute which makes Challenger debris illegal to own? I'd love to take a look.

Frankly, I'd be interested in seeing what crime (if any) is involved in -attmepting- to sell Columbia debris.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 28435
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-01-2003 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I posted this in July 2001:

NASA never relinquished ownership of the Challenger wreckage. The space agency never authorized anyone to take possession of a fragment for personal use.

Therefore, any material found is either authentic and therefore stolen or a fake and therefore fraud.

Where there is evidence that the material was wrongfully taken from NASA (such as in the case of the Starowesky's tile, which was stolen when he was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard recovery team), a federal prosecutor might invoke the general theft statute, 18 USC 641. The statute is broad, covering many types of theft: outright stealing, embezzlement, receiving of stolen goods as well as pilfering. It covers anything of value to the United States or any of its agencies. If the federal government can prove that the Challenger debris was knowingly converted to an unauthorized use or sold to another without authority, the statute is violated. Assuming the value is in excess of $1,000, the violation is a felony.

If a prosecutor does not proceed criminally, a civil lawsuit for conversion of government property is another option. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 64, the United States can petition the federal district court to "replevy" (return) the Challenger debris to the custody of the United States. Unlawful conversion need only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

There are scams in which con artists prey upon unwitting investors who seek to "own" a piece of Challenger. There have been number of cases where plain old metal scraps were sold as Shuttle fragments. People have been victimized by these schemes. When NASA becomes aware of them, they seek to prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. Generally, the mail and wire fraud statutes are sufficient to address these schemes.


Posts: 836
From: Lafayette, CA
Registered: Oct 2001

posted 02-01-2003 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Okay, general conversion of government property then. I for some reason had it in my head that there was a Challenger-specific statute that made mere possession illegal, evne without any intent to convert (not that they'd prosecute you for innocent possession, but it would give them more tools to go after a bad actor).

New Member


posted 02-01-2003 04:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andrewcarson   Click Here to Email andrewcarson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

From a personal perspective I would not buy autographs signed by the crew of STS-107., at inflated prices.This sort of thing should be discouraged.. it gets collectors a bad name...

I have noted people trying to sell Challenger 51L signed photo`s for in the region of $7000.00. I would not buy one...I personally think its immoral.
That is just my personal opinion.
My main interest`s lie with Apollo era stuff., and Russian stuff anyway.

If I had $7000.00 to spend..or equivalant I would not spend it on a vastly overpriced item someone may have got thru the post free at some time in the 1980`s.

How can anyone justify $7000.00 for a signed photo ... that they got free perhaps...that is beyond me !!!

I mean in no way any disrespect to the crew..I thought about Challegers crew this afternoon...the loss of the 107 crew is very sad indeed.

I personally dont wish to buy signed photo`s or artifacts to be reminded of the loss of brave men and women.

Are people buying these items solely for them to increase in value and to sell in the future ?
if they are I think it is wrong.

I think as a group of collectors we should try to do something positive to remember the lost crew. Any suggestions ???

Godspeed...crew of STS-107.



Posts: 181
From: Richmond, IN USA
Registered: Jun 2001

posted 02-01-2003 07:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for uzzi69   Click Here to Email uzzi69     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know some people make their living selling astronaut autographs, some deceased...that alone doesn't bother me.... but to sell anything from these astronauts that aren't even 24 hrs deceased is basically in bad taste.
There should be a little time given to mourn, and to try to understand what has happened before we start reaching into our pockets...

Just an opinion.

Regards, Bill uzzi69


Posts: 953
From: Walsall, West Midlands, UK
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 02-01-2003 08:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman   Click Here to Email spaceman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wholeheartedly agree with Bill on this one.

rocket ron

Posts: 42
From: cypress,ca, usa
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 02-01-2003 11:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rocket ron   Click Here to Email rocket ron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I completely agree...anyone who would trying to exploit this situation is the equivalent of a grave robber. I personally have never had an interest in collecting any "memorabilia" related to past spacecraft accidents and instead focus on the many accomplishments that have been made.

Rob Sumowski

Posts: 465
From: Macon, Georgia
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 02-02-2003 03:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Sumowski   Click Here to Email Rob Sumowski     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's all about ethics. Sadly, some people have none. Of course I'm not the final judge, but still, I can't help but think that it will come around somehow and they'll get what they deserve in the end.


Cliff Lentz

Posts: 649
From: Philadelphia, PA USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 02-03-2003 11:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Robert! I couldn't agree more! I said exactly that on my appearance this morning on Sportsradio 610 in Philadelphia. I have hundreds of Columbia items as well as a personalized photo from Laurel Clark sent only last month. I'm keeping them til the day I die!


Posts: 1992
From: MA, USA
Registered: Sep 2002

posted 02-03-2003 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with not selling any items relating to STS 107 until a good amount of time has past. How about the next flight! I also think that maybe as a group we can take up a collection and pass it along to one of the funds that are being set up. What do you all think!

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