Sally Ride was the first woman astronaut to go into space in 1983. Now it seems that a light-fingered fan has gotten a little too interested in being part of history. Space.com reports that Calvin Dale Smith of Houston has been charged with stealing a light blue flight suit worn by Sally Ride on her first mission into space. And it seems Smith didn’t stop with Ride’s suit — he also picked up several NASA artifacts along the way.
Last month, Smith pleaded not guilty in a Houston federal courtroom and is currently being held in federal custody. As Space.com reports, Smith has been indicted by a grand jury for “knowingly receiving, concealing and retaining parts from a shuttle airlock, a safety tether assembly, a twice flown in space Omega watch and an astronaut flight jacket, among other items of government property totaling nearly $10,000 in value.” Smith once worked for Boeing's Flight Processing Group, which handled a lot of space artifacts.
Federal agents discovered Smith’s cache of stolen goods by his wife while he was being held on a domestic violence charge. Smith’s mother allegedly called his estranged wife asking for his personal belongings. Court documents state that she requested a suitcase — "you know, the suitcase” — causing Smith’s wife to look inside. She reported that Smith would also laugh and mock Ride’s “replica” suit on visits to the Space Center Houston, the visitor center for Johnson Space Center. The “replica” is really just another one of the multiple suits Ride wore on her training mission.
Reports are that Smith had a crush on Sally Ride, prompting the theft. He also tried to sell the suit to the Smithsonian, which rejected his offer. As Space.com reports, The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum already owns and displays a flight suit that Ride wore on her 1983 Challenger mission. Smith has a trial date of July 12 and faces a potential $250,000 fine and ten years in federal lock-up.
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