NASA was rocked by a scandal when the Apollo 15 crew took unauthorized envelopes to the moon, planning to sell them later

Back in the glory days of NASA's Apollo program, astronauts often brought small personal items into space as souvenirs. But the crew of Apollo 15 took this a step too far in 1971.

Commander David Scott and his crew agreed to carry around 400 unauthorized postal covers (stamped envelopes) to the lunar surface. Their plan was to have the envelopes postmarked before launch and after splashdown, then sell them to a German stamp dealer for around $7,000 each.

The covers launched inside Scott's spacesuit pocket and spent a few days on the Moon aboard the Lunar Module Falcon. After a safe return, the covers were postmarked again on the recovery ship before being autographed by the astronauts.

While NASA allowed astronauts some modest souvenirs, this commercial scheme violated ethics rules against profiting from a space mission. When superiors caught wind of it months later, the Apollo 15 crew was removed from future flight assignments.

Public backlash was severe, with Congress holding hearings portraying the astronauts negatively. While never prosecuted, the incident tarnished their reputations and they soon departed NASA.

The incident hit the news again in 1983. From Wikipedia:

By 1977, all three former astronauts had left NASA. In February 1983, [Apollo 15 crew member Alfred] Worden sued, alleging the seizure of the envelopes without a hearing had violated the Constitution. The Department of Justice concluded it had no grounds for fighting the suit, and the government returned all the covers in an out-of-court settlement that July. One of the postal covers given to Sieger sold for over $50,000 in 2014 (equivalent to $64,000 in 202

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