Apollo 14 camera dispute to be settled in court
A law suit was lodge against Edgar Mitchell by US government that he cannot sell the camera which is in his possession. Edgar Mitchell filed a counter suit in the district court to dismiss the suit of the government but U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hurley denied it and said that the dispute needs to be settled in court.
Edgar Mitchell was the astronauts who stepped on the moon surface with Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard in 1971 with the help of Lunar Module. Lunar Module, used to land on and off from the Moon’s surface, was boarded with the 16-millimeter data acquisition camera (DAC).
When the lunar Module was allowed to fall back on Moon’s surface, the data acquisition camera was removed by Edgar Mitchell which he shouldn’t had. Edgar Mitchell is now trying to sell that camera which he saved as a souvenir for about 40 years.
US government, in its lawsuit, said that they don’t have any record of camera being handed over to Edgar Mitchell, who himself removed it from Lunar Module in 1971. However, Edgar Mitchell’s lawyer has stated that too many years have passed and the government has not declared the camera as stolen.
Mitchell’s lawyer said that the camera was given as a gift to Mitchell according to NASA’s then policy of governing spent equipment.
District court judge Daniel Hurley, in his ruling, stated that the Mitchell’s motion will be heard in the state of Florida as it did not apply to the government’s claim.
Hurley during the ruling quoted in his order, “It is well settled that the United States is not bound by state statutes of limitation or subject to the defense of laches in enforcing its rights.”
On the situation of stolen camera stuff argued by Mitchell’s lawyer Hurley wrote, “Defendant's allegations that NASA intended the camera to be destroyed after the mission or that it routinely awarded used mission equipment to astronauts do not preclude as a matter of law. Plaintiff's contrary allegation that Defendant impermissibly converted the camera.”
The case regarding the data acquisition camera is scheduled to be heard before the jury in October 2012.