Legislation to let astronauts keep artifacts likely to fly

They may not be priceless, but one fetched quite a price

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Legislation has been filed in Congress that would allow astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions to keep stuff like personal checklists and logs that they used while in space and have maintained possession of since returning.

The matter has become something of a tug-of-war between NASA and the astronauts since Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell auctioned off his mission checklist for almost $400,000 last year.

From a story in the Los Angeles Times:

The bill's sponsors said in a letter to congressional colleagues that the legislation would allow the "first generation of astronauts to retain spaceflight artifacts that have been in their possession ... . in many cases for more than 40 years.''

Under the measure, astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs would be allowed to keep items such as personal logs and checklists - but not moon rocks.

"These national heroes have had these items in their possession -- with NASA's knowledge -- for decades,'' said a committee spokesman. "And many of these items have been re-gifted to grandchildren, or donated to charities, schools, local museums. ''

I could argue either side:

After all, there's merit to the position that this stuff belongs to the public under the auspices of NASA because of its historical significance, which was only created because the public funded the space program.

Or you might embrace the idea that the artifacts belong to the astronauts themselves, both because the items were somewhat more personal in nature - we're not talking moon rocks -- and they've been in their possession for so long.

Reasonable positions, both. But I have a hard time believing that the first one has any chance of carrying the day in Congress.

I mean who's going to vote against these legendary astronauts?

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