The U.S. government is suing former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell for attempting to sell one of two cameras from the Apollo 14 lunar module Antares.
The auction description of the item stated that it came “directly from” Mitchell’s collection, with a pre-sale estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.
Edgar Mitchell was a lunar module pilot on Apollo 14, which launched in 1971 for a nine-day mission under the command of Alan Shepard.
Although being the sixth man to ever walk on the moon, Mitchell is now currently retired, running a website where he sells his autographed pictures.
In a statement submitted to the court, the government stated that “all equipment and property used during NASA operations remains the property of NASA unless explicitly released or transferred to another party.”
The suit added that NASA had no record of the camera being given to Mitchell and that the government had attempted in the past to get Mitchell to relinquish the item without success.
However, Mitchell’s attorney Donald Jacobson claims NASA is fully aware of Mitchell’s ownership of the camera, having granted it roughly 40 years ago, when a number of lunar objects were mounted and presented to the astronauts as a gift.