The Top Five... Big scandals in Space collectibles

Claiming on live radio that Earth has been visited by aliens, astronauts facing NASA disciplinary hearings, and even fights with the local hairdresser. It turns out the brave and bold astronauts of the Apollo Moon landings have gotten themselves into all kinds of scrapes over the years...

The Apollo 15 stamps scandal

Back in the 1970s, several Apollo astronauts were the subject of NASA disciplinary action - among them Apollo 15's Commander David Scott and Lunar Module Pilot James Irwin, respectively the eighth and ninth men to set foot on the Moon.

That two such men, among NASA's bravest and finest, could be involved in such controversy was remarkable. The drama surrounded 398 commemorative postage stamp covers brought aboard Apollo 15 to the Moon, which the crew planned to sell to a German stamp dealer after returning to Earth.

Apollo 15 flown cover
Apollo 15 flown cover from Dave Scott's collection

One-hundred stamps were to be sold to the German dealer, with another 298 kept by the crew themselves as souvenirs. But when NASA found out, the crew's stamps were duly confiscated - becoming known as the "Sieger covers" - and their careers as astronauts were ended.

Yet there are two sides to every story... It emerged that astronaut's profits would have been used to set-up trust funds for their children. What's more, the arrangement was in no way illegal - and NASA had actually turned a blind eye to similar arrangements in previous space flights.

A decade later, in 1983, the crew of Apollo 15 successfully filed a lawsuit against the government for the return of their 298 "unauthorised" stamp covers.

Buzz Aldrin vs the Omega watchmakers

The second man on the Moon has always had an uneasy relationship with worldwide fame. He apparently considered suing Disney for naming their Buzz Aldrin character after him, yet was also happy to waltz before cameras in America's Dancing With the Stars TV contest.

However, one thing that definitely didn't wash with Aldrin was the watchmaker Omega's choice to use him as the face of its Speedmaster Professional timepiece. Visit Omega's website and the watch is accompanied by a photo of Aldrin wearing it on the Moon's surface.

But Buzz was never paid for the privilege, leading to a long-running dispute. "How could they do that?" he said in a 2009 interview with the UK's Telegraph newspaper.

Nevertheless, the stormy waters seem to have calmed since then: a visit to Omega's website also reveals that Aldrin has apparently been an Ambassador to the brand "since 2009", alongside the likes of George Clooney and Cindy Crawford.

"We've been visited on this planet by aliens," says Apollo 14's Edgar Mitchell

Contrary to what the above quote suggests, Dr Edgar Mitchell, aka the sixth man on the Moon, is by all accounts a sane, erudite and respected man... and certainly not a "UFO nut". In fact, he insists that alien phenomena isn't even his main area of interest.

Which is why it must have come as even more of a shock to Kerrang! rock radio presenter Nick Margerrison when Mitchell, while appearing as guest on his show, insisted that aliens have contacted humans several times, that the Roswell crash was real, and that governments have hidden the truth for 60 years standing.

"I happen to have been privileged enough to be in on the fact that we've been visited on this planet, and the UFO phenomenon is real," Dr Mitchell told a stunned Margerrison.

Following a prompt denial of Mitchell's claims issued by NASA to Kerrang!, Mitchell later clarified to Fox news that his comments did not involve NASA, and has also quoted unnamed sources at the Pentagon.

That was back in 2008 - needless to say, the aliens can rest assured their cover hasn't been blown yet...

Neil Armstrong vs his local hairdresser

What poses more of a threat to your way of life than space aliens? Your local hairdresser, if you're Neil Armstrong. Back in 2005, the first man to set foot on the Moon discovered that his hometown barber was selling off-cuts of his hair for as much as $3,000.

Later that same year, Armstrong became involved in a legal battle with barber Marx Sizemore of Lebanon, Ohio. The former astronaut threatened legal action unless the hair was returned, or the sale proceeds donated to charity.

Comb and scissors with Neil Armstrong's hair
Comb and scissors with Neil Armstrong's hair

But it's amazing what can crop up on the collectibles markets. Half a decade later, the very comb and scissors used by Sizemore to cut Armstrong's hair - along with 25 off-cuts of the Moonwalker's hair - are currently for sale to collectors.

Finally... the big one: 'the Moon landings were a massive hoax'

You don't have to be an expert in space collectibles to know that the "hoax" stories are a load of rubbish. For evidence that the Moon landings were real, you only need to look here.


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