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NASA Moon Camera Lawsuit Settled Out Of Court

It seems the lawsuit filed by NASA against former Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, over possession of a camera Mitchell brought back from the Moon, won't light up the sky after all. NASA and Mitchell have settled their dispute out of court.

The dispute achieved liftoff in June, when NASA learned that Mitchell had offered the camera - a 16 mm movie cam originally attached to the lunar module of Apollo 14 and intended to be destroyed along with the module upon the Astronauts' return to earth - up for auction via British auction house Bonhams. Alleging that Mitchell had never been granted formal ownership of the useless, obsolete device they didn't care about, NASA lawyers launched an injunction that stopped the auction, then filed suit to force Mitchell to return it to them.

Mitchell quickly filed to have the suit dismissed. His argument was that he acquired the camera in accordance with existing NASA policies, and furthermore that the 40 years in between his trip to the moon and the auction were sufficient to prove ownership. The court ruled in favor of NASA on October 7th, allowing the lawsuit to proceed ever upward. That was how things stood until this morning, when the potentially stellar court battle ended not with a blast off, but with a mission cancellation as the two parties reached an agreement in which Mitchell will "relinquish all claims of ownership, legal title, or dominion." The deal must still receive final approval from presiding judge, at which point the camera will be returned to NASA and reportedly donated to the Smithsonian for preservation.

Though NASA has never disclosed precisely what distinguished this camera from the dozens of other mementos brought back from the Apollo moon missions, there appears to be no connection to a sound stage in New Mexico.