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Episode 676             Episode 678
Episode 677

Apollo 15 postal covers incident
Wed, 2019-Mar-13 02:14 UTC
Length - 3:43

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Wednesday, 13 March 2019 is Apollo 15 postal covers incident.

A 1972 NASA scandal involved the astronauts of Apollo 15, who carried about 400 unauthorized postal covers into space and to the Moon's surface on the lunar lander Falcon. Some of the envelopes were sold at high prices by West German stamp dealer Hermann Sieger, and are known as "Sieger covers". The crew of Apollo 15, David Scott, Alfred Worden and James Irwin, agreed to take payments for carrying the covers; though they returned the money, they were reprimanded by NASA. Amid much press coverage of the incident, the astronauts were called before a closed session of a Senate committee and never flew in space again.

The three astronauts and an acquaintance, Horst Eiermann, had agreed to have the covers made and taken into space. Each astronaut was to receive about $7,000. Scott arranged to have the covers postmarked on the morning of the Apollo 15 launch. They were packaged for space and brought to him as he prepared for liftoff. Due to an error, they were not included on the list of the personal items he was taking into space. The covers spent July 30 to August 2, 1971 on the Moon inside the Falcon. On August 7, the date of splashdown, the covers were postmarked again on the recovery carrier USS Okinawa. One hundred were sent to Eiermann (and passed on to Sieger); the remaining covers were divided among the astronauts.

Worden had agreed to carry 144 additional covers, largely for an acquaintance, F. Herrick Herrick; these had been approved for space. Apollo 15 carried a total of approximately 641 covers. When NASA in late 1971 heard that the Herrick covers were being sold, the astronauts' supervisor, Deke Slayton, warned Worden to avoid further commercialization of what he had been allowed to take into space. After Slayton heard of the Sieger arrangement, he removed the three as backup crew members for Apollo 17, though the astronauts had by then refused compensation from Sieger and Eiermann. The Sieger matter became generally known in the newspapers in June 1972. There was widespread coverage; some said astronauts should not be allowed to reap personal profits from NASA missions.

By 1977, all three former astronauts had left NASA. In 1983, Worden sued for the return of the covers impounded in 1972 and the three men received them in an out-of-court settlement. One of the covers given to Sieger sold for over $50,000 in 2014.

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 02:14 UTC on Wednesday, 13 March 2019.

For the full current version of the article, see Apollo 15 postal covers incident on Wikipedia.

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