|Houston, We Have A Collectible|
|Collecting Apollo 13, Thirty+ Years Later|
by Robert Pearlman
A caution must be given though, for those who seek astronauts' autographs. Due to the countless requests NASA received for signed photographs, often an "autopen" or a machine which signs an autograph in the astronaut's handwriting, was used. Distinguishing an autopen signature from a real example can be difficult and the only sure way to identify a machine-generated autograph is to compare it with other known examples. Fortunately, autopen patterns have been well researched and several good resources exist online and off to assist in their identification
That being said, many authentic individual and crew-signed photographs do exist and can often be acquired with just a little effort. Those familiar with the movie (or the mission) know that the original crew of Apollo 13 included Thomas K. Mattingly III. Jack Swigert replaced Mattingly eight days before the launch, after Mattingly was exposed to rubella (German measles) by Charles Duke, another member of the back-up crew (for the record, Mattingly never contracted the measles). As such, there are actually two crew-signed photographs collected -- the original and flight versions.
The original crew's (Lovell, Haise, and Mattingly) signatures range in price, but can usually be found for $900-$1200, depending on the quality of the piece. With all three still alive, it is also theoretically possible to collect this crew during an in-person encounter (however, the three do not answer autograph requests through the mail).
Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to do the same for the flight crew. In November 1982, Swigert was elected to the US House of Representatives for Colorado's Sixth District. Tragically, it was discovered during his campaign that he was suffering from bone cancer. Swigert passed away one week before taking office.
"Lost Moon" by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger served as the basis for the movie (and as such was re-titled "Apollo 13"). Originally released in 1994, the book was republished for the 30th anniversary with a new preface and photographs.
Also released for the anniversary is "Failure Is Not An Option," the autobiography of former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz (who was portrayed by Ed Harris in the film). Where "Lost Moon" provides the astronaut view of the mission, Kranz's "Failure" offers a unique insight into the behind-the-scenes trenches of Mission Control.
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