The Nation: Lunar Rip-Off

Apollo astronauts are permitted to carry "Personal preference kits," in which they put small souvenir items for themselves, families and friends.

But NASA strictly forbids any commercial exploitation of such mementos.

Last week, after an elaborate investigation, 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. Through an intermediary, 100 copies of the moon mail were eventually purchased by a German philatelist named Hermann Sieger, who in turn sold 99 of them for a reported $1,500 apiece.

Part of the money was to go into a trust...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!