The Nation: Lunar Profits

An aura of the extraterrestrial Frank Merriwell has always clung to the nation's astronauts—an image of cool, technological grit. In an era of diminished heroes, they were paragons of what almost seemed an archaic ethic of know-how, daring and purity.

But now the patina seems slightly worn. This summer NASA announced that the three Apollo 15 astronauts—David Scott, James Irwin and Alfred Worden—had carried 400 unauthorized stamped envelopes to the moon and back, then let 100 of them out for sale through a German philatelist (TIME, July 24). The three never actually profited by the arrangement, but it raised a sour question...

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