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It's only an embarrassment if you have a deep seated anti-commercial bias. Sure, your adjectives are quite invocative but let's contrast your prose with reality:

> smuggling

Taking something personal in the space assigned for personal use is not smuggling.

> schlocky trinkets

Envelopes from space are pretty neat and evidently highly valued by the people that ended up buying them. Those people now have something that is nearly unique and very special to them. Have you personally ever created or done something as meaningful for other people?

> national significance

No doubt. But how come a government bureaucracy like NASA can't make cool memorabilia like that to give to the fans that payed for all of it but can only watch?

> international spotlight

Few people cared about Apollo 15. It's actually already legendary how hard the public interest dropped off after the first few landings.

> triumph of capitalism

It is a triumph, absolutely. Hundreds of people got something really meaningful for them that they would not have gotten otherwise. The astronauts got a well earned pay off. Humanity got artifacts that will be preserved down the ages. Nobody was hurt or exploited. Win Win Win all around




It’s nothing to do with commercial bias. The personal effects allowance was assigned in order to aid astronaut morale. If they’re sacrificing allowance for personal items commercially that creates a perverse and distracting situation. Also personal effects are supposed to go through a approval process, which at least some of these covers bypassed. Do you really want astronauts making trade offs between genuinely personal items and effectively commercial cargo?


"The personal effects allowance was assigned in order to aid astronaut morale."

This strikes me as a weird reason to object: surely, Getting significant financial gain could help aid morale.

I'm not in favour of astronauts using their launches to establish a for-profit souvenir business. But I'm not objecting to that on the grounds of their morale.


They needed to be recorded and approved as safe for the cabin. These were smuggled. It was a breach, and was punished.

If they'd applied, who knows, they might have been approved. Afterward, everybody talks about how awful it was. But that was just blather.


Carrying commercially valuable goods can also be a source of pressure and anxiety. It's a messy situation to get into.




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