A page in Space Flown Artifacts describes miniature lunar rover license plates that Dave Scott carried to the moon and back:

These miniature license plates were manufactured by Boeing (makers of the Lunar Roving Vehicle itself) especially for Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott as a memento of the first lunar rover. The miniature plates were made of lightweight aluminum and measure just 1¼" x ½" (32mmx20mm) in size. They are marked with the registration number "LRV 001", with "MOON" as the home state, the year 1971, and the NASA and Boeing logos. The plates were prepackaged in a pack smaller than a pack of gum, which was stowed in the left knee pocket of Scott's space suit before the launch and remained there until after his return to Earth. enter image description here

Did Dave Scott receive Deke Slayton's approval to carry these miniature license plates, or were they smuggled along with the famous Sieger covers?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I've never seen that version of the Boeing logo, interesting. $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2019 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ There could be a third option, apart from smuggling or approval; this was the case with some US flags hidden in Scott's equipment. $\endgroup$
    – desertnaut
    Dec 4, 2019 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ @desertnaut this is unlikely, given the statement that Boeing manufactured the plates "especially" for Dave Scott. Honestly, I personally doubt that hidden US flags were unknown to him. Three 'making-profit-later-out-of-moon-flown-objects' cases like that in one flight is just too much for coincidence. $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2019 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ @desertnaut The quote from the link you provided: ""This [hidden pouch] was apparently unknown to anybody else until the OPS was disassembled after the mission by some other member of the CSD and the flag package was discovered," wrote Scott. The identity of the original CSD member who hid the flags, or the person who found them afterward, is unknown." This story doesn't seem very sound to me. Up to the point did those flags fly at all. $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2019 at 3:50

1 Answer 1


The handling of personal items through Apollo 15 was chaotic, but there is considerable evidence that officials turned a blind eye during this period.

  • The stowage list for Apollo 15 shows one personal preference kit (PPK) in the CM, one PPK in the lunar module, and no entries for license plates. This means that if the license plates flew at all, they would have to be in the PPKs.

  • PPKs have existed since the first Gemini flight. They have always been subject to size and weight restrictions.

  • The first mention of any NASA policy on personal items is after Apollo 15, on 1972 January 19:

    A directive establishing policy and procedure and assigning responsibilities governing articles to be included in astronaut preference kits flown on board Apollo spacecraft was promulgated.

    NASA's official sites do not have a copy of this policy (or any previous policy). There are several collector websites that provide a text for the policy, but they lack citations or links to verify if they are accurate. The apparent policy did require explicit approval by the Director Flight Crew Operations:

    (b) Director Flight Crew Operations MSC

    (1) Will review the list of items submitted for inclusion in the APK for conformance with policy and either approve or disapprove specific items.

    (2) Will notify the Director, Apollo Program office, no later than launch minus two days that the contents of the APK's are in accordance with this policy statement.

    Notice how this policy requires the DFCO to affirmatively act on the lists, rather than tacitly letting things go.

  • Astronauts submitted items for their PPKs to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.

    The Manned Spacecraft Center was also responsible for the contents of the crew preference kits, the bags in which astronauts carried their personal mementos. Following the incident with unauthorized postal covers on Apollo 15, NASA tightened its restrictions on what the astronauts could take to the moon.

    Moonport, ch. 23

  • Submitted items were subject to a variety of tests. Guether Wendt, the leader of the launch pad crew, describes this in his NASA oral history:

    As a matter of fact, on 11 I had a little opal I wanted to send along for my wife. I asked Neil if he would take it. But in order to do that, I had to put the opal in plastic. I had to run it through a vacuum chamber to evacuate it. I had to expose it for 24 hours, 100% oxygen atmosphere. Make sure we run it through a spectrometer that it didn’t outgas anything. Because you had to be very, very careful what you took along because, yeah, it was touchy. You didn’t want to have anything detrimental to the health of the crew. So, it was very, very thought of as to what they would take along. Normally what they would take in the PPK was cleared and manifested with the Chief of the Astronaut Office.

  • Items occasionally got mixed up or balanced out among the three astronauts' kits. Additional items were added by third parties. The job of tracking and packing the PPKs into their bags was by crew equipment engineer Richard W. Nygren. He describes the process in his NASA oral history:

    One of the other things we did early on in the program—it got more formalized later on for some different reasons—but the crew was authorized a personal preference kit [PPK]. They get like three-quarters of a pound of personal items that they can take, mementos for themselves or for family and friends. Then there was an OFK, Official Flight Kit, that the agency flew, and we were responsible for packing these kits and verifying that the items got cleaned to the cleanliness specs, and if an item was flammable, that it got blessed.

    We’d write the test preparation sheets that gathered all of the kit items and transferred them into bond to get it “legal.” We’d write the TPS, Type A type, to pack it for launch. We worked with the crew guys on all of the pins and medallions and flags and whatever they wanted to fly. A couple of nights before launch, we’re in the crew quarters with all the kit items spread over the beds, going, “Okay, now, this is Dave’s, and this is Jim’s, and this is Rusty’s,” or on the next flight, “This is Pete’s. This is Dick’s,” you know. [Laughs] We would organize it in the bag for each guy, keeping track of each item, because there were a lot of personal items people would fly—wedding rings, items that were important. You needed to make sure that whichever crewman was flying the item knew who he’d actually received it from, so he could get it back to the right people after the mission.

    Postflight, we’d get the kits back. We’d take the kits back and clean the items up, because a lot of this stuff was small, and had been wrapped in the world-famous gray tape—it was gray tape back then, and it was like duct tape is today; it solved everything. [Laughs] We’d work with the crews to disposition the items after the flight. Most of the time this was just getting the items to the crew, and they took care of returning them.

  • There was a lot of documentation (perhaps the original "TPS reports"):

    There’s a huge amount of paperwork that’s associated with anything that you do, and if you’re just going to do something on a bench, you can generally do it on what’s called a Test Preparation Sheet, a TPS, and those are simple things that you want to do. For more extensive tests, what they use at KSC is what’s called an OMI, Operations and Maintenance Instruction. If you’re actually running a longer test, you actually have to write an Operations and Maintenance Instruction. It is used for more complicated tests and it has a more formal review process, so that you make sure that all of the right people get involved.


  • Even though the contents of PPKs were documented, it was the prerogative of the astronauts to make this public:

    Each crew member may divulge the contents of his APK publicly, prior to launch, at his own discretion.

    Although there are mentions of individual preference items, as well as full disclosures by some astronauts, I have not been able to find any official records of the contents of the PPKs.

  • There is a story about some flags hidden in the spacesuit oxygen purge system. I am skeptical about the veracity of this story. Later missions were so concerned about cutting weight that even a fraction of an ounce overweight would be noticed. There were too many witnesses. There was no guarantee that the person installing such an item would have access to it again after the mission. And of course, the claim was made so the flags could be auctioned.

My impression is that the license plates were on the PPK lists submitted to Deke Slayton, and that he raised no objections to those lists.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.