The President yesterday signed into law H.R. 4158, a bipartisan bill introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) to confirm full ownership rights to artifacts received by Apollo-era astronauts from their space missions.
"I am pleased we were able to work in a bipartisan, bicameral way to clear up any ambiguity regarding small mementos kept by our nation's early space pioneers," said Chairman Hall. "As I said on the House Floor, these men are heroes who took extraordinary risks to establish American preeminence in space, and by doing so helped our country become a world leader."
Throughout the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, NASA managers routinely allowed astronauts, at the conclusion of a mission, to keep mementos, pieces of hardware, and personal equipment from the spacecraft. However, beginning in the mid-2000s, NASA began to challenge the ownership of these artifacts.
The House unanimously approved the measure on September 19, and the Senate approved by unanimous consent on September 22.