"Little things can sometimes have big and damaging effects on a mission.
In the case of Apollo 15, the 'little things with big consequences'
were... postage stamps. It might be one of the stranger Apollo-era
stories but the Apollo 15 crew put their careers in jeopardy over 298
postage stamps," Amy Shira Teitel writes on the Discovery News website.
According to Teitel, Apollo 15
took 250 envelopes with special issue space stamps to the moon.
Commander Dave Scott had a cancellation device on hand and cancelled
each stamp at Hadley Rille, the missions lunar landing point.
She goes on to say, "But memorabilia dealer Walter Eiermann saw the potential of selling
these covers for profit and got the crew to take 300 more than the 250
they were authorized to carry. The idea was that Eiermann and each
crewman -- Scott was accompanied by command module pilot Al Worden and
lunar module pilot Jim Irwin -- would have 100 to sell after the
mission. He also have the crew $7,000 for their troubles.
"Everything would have been fine had Eiermann not gotten over-zealous
when he finally got his flown covers back after the crew returned on
Aug. 7, 1971. He started selling them for $1,500 USD a piece in Europe,
and it wasn't long before US authorities got wind of what was happening.
The crew tried unsuccessfully to recover the covers but NASA got there
first; the agency also confiscated 298 of the 300 the crew had taken for
themselves (two were destroyed before the flight)."
Teitel writes, "In an attempt to save their careers, the astronauts returned the $7,000,
but pressure from a congressional inquiry forced NASA to suspend the
three men from flight status. They were also forced to sign an agreement
saying they would never take memorabilia into space for personal profit
Shown above, one of the covers that were flown to the Lunar Surface on Apollo 15.
According to the Moonpans.com
website, "Once back from the moon and
while on the USS Okinawa the crew added the twin 8c stamps and had the
covers cancelled and date stamped at the on-board ship's post office,
they then signed the covers on the flight from Hawaii back to Houston."
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