NASA Says Lovell Can’t Sell That – Can He?
NASA is investigating to determine whether Apollo 13 commander James Lovell has the right to sell a flight checklist that includes his handwritten calculations that were crucial in guiding the damaged spacecraft back to Earth.
The Apollo 13 moon mission was aborted when an oxygen tank exploded in 1970. The crew's struggle to survive and make it back to earth in their crippled spacecraft captured the attention of the entire world, and became a hit movie in the 1990s.
The checklist in question was created and handwritten by Flight Commander Jim Lovell during the flight, and Lovell kept it for himself after they splashed down in the Pacific.
The checklist later gained even more fame in the 1995 film "Apollo 13", when actor Tom Hanks, playing Lovell, was shown using it as a prop to make in-flight recalculations.
Now the checklist is back in the news. Because it is, as they say, highly collectible, it was sold at auction in November for more than $388,000.
But NASA stepped up saying, essentially, not so fast there. The sale has been suspended while NASA investigates to determine whether Lovell had the right to sell it.
Any number of astronauts have kept small items they used during their space missions, even the lunar missions. Some have even sold their memorabilia at auction. However, NASA says only the space agency can authorize the sale of something as historically important as this one.