October 29, 2018 – After 60 years of space exploration, NASA could do a better job to track its history,…
October 29, 2018
– After 60 years of space exploration, NASA could do a better job to track its history, as federal investigators have found.
NASA Inspectorate (OIG), the Independent Investigation Space Organization’s Arm, recently conducted a review of NASA’s historic property and, in the wake of several high-profile losses, has recommended that the Agency adopt a more effective approach to identify and manage its space artifacts .
“NASA’s processes for lending and disposal of historical personal property have improved over the last six decades, but a significant amount of historical personal property has been lost, misplaced or taken by former employees and contractors due to the lack of appropriate procedures by the Authority” , reported OIG. 1
9659003] In addition, investigators, OIG’s efforts to restore artifacts that have relocated NASA’s control have been “weakened” by the spacecraft’s poor record keeping and lack of establishecy processes. ”
Moonbags and buggies
OIG conducted its review of NASA’s historical holdings as an extension to an eight-year assessment of the Agency’s aging infrastructure and facilities. The audit was on the heels of several space artifacts investigations, for which NASA had an interest in recovery, but instead was released as a result of the Agency’s reluctance or inability to quickly claim ownership.
In such a case that dates back to 2015, a US Air Force historian saw what he thought was a prototype lunar rover in a residential backyard in Alabama. After reporting the discovery to NASA, the case was referred to OIG, who was told that the rover owner was susceptible to returning the moon carriage to NASA.
“OIG requested that NASA claim ownership of the rover and, if appropriate, plan to accept it as a donation,” reports the audit. “But after waiting for more than four months for a decision from the agency, the single soldier sold it to a scrap company.”
Ford’s new owner rejected NASA’s possible offer of four-wheel buggy and instead authorized it for an unexplored amount.
In another example, as OIG quoted, NASA’s failure to actively keep tabs on its lent artifacts led a monolithic bag from the first month’s landing to be governed by private property by a federal judge and eventually sold for the most paid for a space artifact at one public auction. The bag had been loaned to a museum, but an inventory error led to confiscation and subsequent sales as part of a theft case monitored by the US Marshals Office.
The Apollo 11 Moon Dust Bag was sold for $ 1.8 million in 2017.
“In the past, OIG spent years on such cases just for NASA to ultimately withdraw his interest in returning the property or for the court to decide that the existing owner had the rightful possession of the property “the audit reported.
Confusion and Complications
In addition to other issues, OIG found NASA’s earlier actions to give away or dispose of artifacts into confusion in attempting to restore federal property. 19659003] During the early Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs of the 1960s, for example, astronauts became as souvenirs who escaped spacecraft without a documented release procedure for the objects. Decades later, when the same astronauts began selling their collections, the lack of paperwork led to a confrontation between the OIG and the NASA veterans. To resolve the issue, Congress would pass legislation confirming the astronauts title to their memories.
But even the 2012 Act left open questions. An employee who was tasked with preparing artifacts for presentation to the astronauts, was told by his supervisor to reject a set of spacecraft controllers at the end of the Apollo program, including one used to fly the Apollo 11 crew to the moon. The worker instead took the artifacts home and years later they tried to sell them at auction.
“When NASA learned from the sale, it sought return of controls,” said OIG. “[But] After three years, NASA interrupted its pursuit of the objects.”
The OIG reports confirmed that NASA has improved its policy, such as the way it managed the disposition of artifacts at the end of the space shuttle program in 2011 – but recommended the Agency to develop more comprehensive routines to maintain its assets on inheritance, including determining whether it is the “most efficient owner” and what the space agency retains because of its historical value.