The US government has sued a former NASA astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, to recover a camera used to explore the moon’s surface during the 1971 Apollo 14 mission after discovered that the British auction house Bonhams planned to sell the camera at an upcoming Space History Sale.
The lot description also identified the camera as the property of pilot Edgar Mitchell and sported a pre-sale estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.
The lawsuit, filed in Miami federal court, accuses Edgar Mitchell of illegally possessing the camera and attempting to sell it for profit.
However, Donald Jacobson, an attorney for former astronaut, NASA argues that Mitchell gave the camera as a gift, after 40 years of the mission. “Objects from the lunar trips to the moon were ultimately mounted and then presented to the astronauts as a gift after they had helped NASA on a mission,” Jacobson said.
NASA claims that on several occasions requests to Mitchell and his lawyer to return the camera but received no response.