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Customs Forms for Moon Rocks 121

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-thats-pretty-funny dept.
regen writes "I found a very interesting document while doing some research for work. This Customs Declaration has to be one of the strangest ever filled out. It is the declaration filled out by the crew of Apollo 11 for bringing Moon rocks into the United States. A news article by Independent News confirms that this document is real."
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Customs Forms for Moon Rocks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2001 @01:28PM (#353239)
    Does that cover fully armed ICBM's too if you launch them from one part of the US to another?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2001 @12:57PM (#353240)
    object: express delivery for the Yucatan peninsula
    date: 65,000,000 B.C.
    contains: large amount of the iridium element
    notes: package is very heavy, do not drop.
  • by Erbo (384) <obreerbo@g m a il.com> on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:37PM (#353241) Homepage Journal
    Hey, historic space expeditions may be one thing, but you gotta have the right government forms, too. :-)

    Another interesting document which has been mentioned elsewhere: the text [thesmokinggun.com] of a speech which was prepared for President Nixon (by William Safire, no less) in case there was some sort of disaster that marooned Armstrong and Aldrin on the lunar surface, complete with additional instructions about the protocol to be followed. Though the speech was (thankfully) never needed, it remains an interesting footnote to what will probably be remembered as NASA's most successful series of missions.

    Eric
    --

  • Posted by targo:

    convieniently don't say anything about the killer micro-organisms that they brought back. The guys, all their clothing and everything else were actually put in a pretty serious quarantine for weeks to check if they had brought back anything serious.
  • The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies of 27 January 1967 effectively said that none of the signatory nations could claim the moon

    Check out NASA's [nasa.gov] version of the story.

  • If it were French, the custom agents would have had to make sure there was no Swastikas inscribed on the rocks.

    They are busy trying to block extraterrestrial reruns of the 1936 Olympics.
    __
  • Actually Slashdot is kind of out-of-date on this one. The Register had this story about a month ago and I'm pretty sure I saw it linked in a post here on Slashdot a day or two before that.
  • ...from the same nation's gov't bureaucracy that can't figure out prior art in patents...

    Surprised?
  • by SEE (7681)
    Newbie.
    Steven E. Ehrbar
  • Neither the Moon nor the ISS is part of Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, or Yugoslavia, so it doesn't matter.

    You are aware that the crypto rules were relaxed almost a year ago, right?

    Steven E. Ehrbar
  • Wasn't it "Shuttle Down" by Lee Correy ? Lee Correy being a pen name for one the senior NASA blokes, first published in Analog IIRC

  • Don't forget that there'd also be about 20 more forms to fill out.
  • Well all the amusing quips that /.ers are coming up with are just swell, but I'd like to seriously know if they were required to fill this form our, or did they do it as their own form of humor?

  • Shit any good diamonds lately?
  • by ElrondHubbard (13672) on Monday March 19, 2001 @02:56PM (#353253)
    July 24, 1969
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    Customs Agent: Citizenship?

    Astronaut: American.

    C: How long away?

    A: About a week.

    C: Anything to declare?

    A: Nope.

    C: Would you mind opening your bag, sir?

    A: Uh, okay.

    C: Would you mind explaining this, sir?

    A: It's a rock.

    C: No, sir. Would you mind explaining this white powder?

    A: Huh?

    C: What are you, playing dumb? What's this white powder?

    A: It's just a dust sample. It goes with the rock.

    C: It goes with the rock. What's that supposed to mean?

    A: I don't understand.

    C: Do you have a problem with your hearing, sir? I asked you to explain this white powder.

    A: I picked that up while I was away.

    C: Did you, now? And where might you be coming from?

    A: The moon.

    C: The moon.

    A: That's right, the moon.

    C: So this rock is from the moon, right?

    A: That's right.

    C: And this white powder --

    A: It's moondust.

    C: Oh, I see. It's MOONdust. Would you come with me, sir?

    A: What, now?

    C: Yes. Now.

    A: But I have to report for debrief --

    C: DOWN ON THE FLOOR! NOW!!
  • It's nice to hear that even space can't escape american bureaucracy. I can just imagine the customs official "Anything to declare?".
  • The capsule and astronauts were soused with disinfectant foam, and subsequently put in quarantine for weeks.

    They were soused, huh? I'm not surprised that they were confined, ANYONE drinking disinfectant foam probably needs to be locked up, and given a very thorough mental examination.

    --
  • by sharkey (16670) on Monday March 19, 2001 @05:52PM (#353256)
    Why? What would they do if they found one? Roll over and start screaming, "WE SURRENDER!"?

    --
  • Actually, no the name really is "Moon". See my comment here [slashdot.org]. Where do people get these strange ideas?
  • by ivan256 (17499) on Monday March 19, 2001 @07:43PM (#353258)
    You know, I read your post and thought "He's right, but he should be able to provide a reference...". So I went to look for one, but it seems according to the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature [usgs.gov] and NASA [nasa.gov] You're just plain wrong. The name of Earth's moon is "Moon". Luna just happens to be the Italian word for it.
  • I believe the astronauts were placed in quarantine for a week or two afterward in order to make sure they didn't have any diseases.

  • It's obvious why. Collins stayed up during the mission while the other two went down. They just got so used to those positions, it carried over to form-signing.
  • Wouldn't they have to fill out one of these forms every time their orbit took them over the united states?
  • Merely entering a country from another country. The outbond trip you are expected to be recieved by customs of the entering country. It is not our fault the moom didn't do what it was supposed to.
  • Latin, not Italian. Luna has been the name of our satellite for a couple of millenia longer than the word "Moon" has been around. I agree it's somewhat surprising that the GPN lists just "Earth's Moon" as its official name. However, I think it's also worth noting that "Moon", being an English word, is certainly not what most people on this planet call our satellite. Most Romance languages use some form of Luna or Lune, and I don't know the word in Hindi or Chinese, but it's certainly not "Moon".

    IMO, Latin is a good compromise language for an official name, and certainly it has the benefit that the majority of planet and major moon names are already in Latin, so it would at least be consistent. Furthermore, "lunar" is the accepted adjective form, even in English.

  • Well, you never know... Don't forget about the Mir Space Fungus!
  • Hey, this is neat. I was pondering a related question two weeks ago. Namely, are customs for going from one country to another, or merely for entering a country? The idea was to ponder whether interplanetary travel would require customs as we know it. I guess the answer is, yes. Long, long before space tourism, humanity had forms to fill.

    Now the question is, how long will it be before the first interplanetary cavity search?

  • What, you think anyone's going to want to come back to Earth after those achievements?

    Journal Entry, 3/19/4265 - Today I touched the face of God. What a rush! But I'm psyched to finally be done with this mission so I can get home and see the new season of E.R. What a show! I hope they bring back the reincarnated Dr. Hathaway. Dude, she is so hot! I am not excited about cleaning the gutters, though. Hopefully, I can get the kids to take care of it so I can spend some more time trying to beat my previous timed-run in Doom 4000

    Some cherished dogmas will be around forever...

    --

  • Any conditions on board which may lead to the spread of disease?

    "To be determined."

    I'll be sure to try that line out next time I go south to buy cigarettes...

  • If it were serious, the correct flight number would be on the form.

    The form said that they arrived in Honolulu on "Apollo 13". In fact they arrived by ship on the USS Hornet, so that millitary shipping number is what should be on the form. Since it isn't, this form can't be a serious document.

  • Bleah. I shouldn't post before the first caffeine of the day. You knew what I meant, anyway. :-)

  • Nah. Just deport 'em to Canada.

    Maybe this has something to do with that phrase,


    Take off, eh?
  • Did anyone else notice that Michael Collins signed above his own printed name, when the other two signed below theirs?

    You'd think you'd double-check on such a historic form, but..

  • I wonder how much the original document would go for on E-bay?
  • You think they'd hesitate letting in a moon rock? I doubt it. That's green cheese man! Those frenchies LOVE their cheese, especially if it is of an unusual/disturbing color.
  • If you live in the Bay Area, a contemporary copy of the customs declaration (probably required in triplicate) can be seen on USS Hornet, the aircraft carrier (now a floating museum in Alameda) that hauled many of the Apollo capsules out of the Pacific and took them to Hawaii. It was clearly done as a tongue in cheek thing by US Customs, and possibly to cop a little reflected glamour from the moon shot.

    Reminds me of something similar.

    In the book Lost Moon [barnesandnoble.com], about the Apollo 13 mission, it says that the geeks at the contractor that built the lunar module sent the geeks at the contractor that built the (broken) command module an invoice, for towing charges, oxygen supplies, electrical power, etc.

  • Did they think they wouldn't be able to find the astronauts or NASA again if they didn't fill out customs paperwork? Do government agencies typically need to fill out such paperwork for other instances? Could they have been rejected and sent back to the moon? Who at the Hawaii airport decided that Cuban cigars, textiles from China, and moon rocks all fit into the same category?

    It's just strange - will they do the same thing when people start going into space on their own? Will the Microsoft/Disney/Pepsico shuttle be required to declair if it has any fruit on board?

    The Good Reverend
    I'm different, just like everybody else. [michris.com]
  • Imagine the noise they'll make when he's given a fully body cavity search....

    hehe

    Imagine the noise he'll make when he receives his fully body cavity search....

  • Hey, that's almost insulting since mine is under this weird limit. I'm kinda old timer on the ICQ :)
  • AFAIK, that was never ratified/accepted by the U.N. (although I'm not entirely sure on that).

    > Any threat or use of force or any other hostile act or threat of hostile act on the moon is prohibited. It is likewise prohibited to use the moon in order to commit any such act or to engage in any such threat in relation to the earth.

    Hmmm. Glad they thought of everything.

    BTW, the moon is owned by the Lunar Embassy [lunarembassy.com].
  • I liked the response to the question, "Any other condition on board which may lead to the spread of disease:"

    Answer: "TO BE DETERMINED"
  • by Tom7 (102298)
    This is how we keep out the Foot and Mouth disease, you know... =)
  • I presume you are not nor have ever been a student if you think green is an unusual colour for cheese......
    ----
  • 1. Microbeskis 2. Space Viruskis 3. Hundreds of thousands of itty-bitty flying debriskis. 4. Thousands of pieces of deadly, smouldering projectileuskas
  • notes: package is very heavy, do not drop.

    Which someone obviously did. Those customs officials, I tell ye...

    (Boneshintai)


    I don't claim to be right, I just claim to be thinking about it.
  • So I guess that sort of negates my claim to the Andromeda Galaxy! Bummer!
  • Do government agencies typically need to fill out such paperwork for other instances? Could they have been rejected and sent back to the moon?

    Basically, yeah... the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service -- ie Customs) has the authority to deport basically *anyone* and has police powers up to 500 miles inland from the US border. If you watch carefully any video of the President's arrival back into the country (as he disembarks off Air Force One or a helicopter) you'll see an official greeting him right at the door. From what I've been told, that's an INS official who has to Officially record and authorize his re-entry to the country.

    No one's above the law, I guess =)

  • Good for you.

    My belief is that you don't really exist but are part of a billion dollar conspiracy to get idiots to watch the Fox Network.
  • Dude, calm down. Isn't it much more likely that this reflects no policy, only random bureaucratic confusion? Chances are some relatively minor functionary brough up the customs question, nobody had any idea what the answer was, and some other functionary decided to have the form filled out just to cover their ass.

    Besides, I'm sure the official U.S. position on "moon ownership" [discovery.com] is already sufficiently well documented [un.org] elsewhere.

  • Trust me, if you're launching ICBMs from one part of the U.S. and targeting another part, you have much more important things to worry about than Customs declarations!



  • Mod this one up! Guffah!

  • by CBoy (129544) on Monday March 19, 2001 @12:49PM (#353291) Homepage
    Are they required to show passports that they are American citizens? If they lost them/can't prove it, are they sent back to the moon ? :)
  • The best part of the form is:
    Any other condition on board which may lead to the spread of disease:

    TO BE DETERMINED
  • Didn't Buzz Aldrin actually have a cold at some point? Or am I getting confuzzled with "apollo 13" again? Mmm, Tang. -- F.S.
  • If you look a little closer, the paper said "Apollo 11". Apollo 13 is the one that didn't get to land.

    Edward Burr
  • And besides, you wouldn't want them to try to smuggle in any illegal aliens, would you?

    KFG
  • Luna is the Latin/Italian word for moon. Do you call this planet Terra by any chance?
  • Actually the really funny thing about that was he *thought* he'd bought Tower bridge - the ornate one with the hinged roadway to let ships underneath. Only to find he'd actually bought the old London Bridge - a rather unimpressive concrete thing...
    Oh how we laughed!

    Hacker: A criminal who breaks into computer systems
  • I guy bought the London bridge and had it shipped piece by piece to the US. There is a story about him filling out the custom form on the plane ride back. One bridge.......


    ________

  • If it were French, the custom agents would have had to make sure there was no Swastikas inscribed on the rocks.

  • I can just imagine the customs official "Anything to declare?".

    Why yes, yes I do: "That's one small step for man..."

  • The best line on the form:

    Any other condition on board which may lead to the spread of disease:

    TO BE DETERMINED

    I wonder if they ever have? :)

  • So thats the real reson were are not on Mars yet -

    Fucking customs...
  • by peccary (161168) on Monday March 19, 2001 @01:19PM (#353303)
    I don't believe that it was entirely tongue-in-cheek. When I last studied the customs laws, in the context of exporting and importing cryptographic "munitions", I noted that there was an exception provided for both the export, and import, of rockets which are launched from within the US borders. IOW, if you launch a rocket from Florida into outer space and it re-enters in Albequerque, no import declaration need be filed.
  • by fm6 (162816) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:04PM (#353304) Homepage Journal
    Before you can be deported, another country has to agree to accept you. I looked, and I looked, but there's no phone number for the lunar embassy!

    __________________

  • Nah. Just deport 'em to Canada.

    Please, send me back to the moon. I'ts much more hospitable up there!

    --

  • I think you can rest assured that most likely everybody involved had their tounges firmly in their cheeks. I mean come on under illness TBD now that was funny.
  • It was more amusing when NASA got entry visas from the US Immigration and Naturalization service to bring back two aliens from space.

    Cosmonauts Vladimir Dezurov and Grennady Strekalov were launched from Kazakstan to Mir and destined to land in the United States via Space Shuttle Atlantis.

  • * Slashdot is so out of date. This was made in 1969. Why isn't slashdot up with the times?
    * So now do meteors have to fill out forms before they fall to earth?
    * This is where Mulder and Scully need to start searching for alien technology! in Customs records.
  • So, did NASA take a casulty deduction on their 1040 when the Mars Observer blew up?
  • My memory is a bit hazy, but I seem to recall that US astronauts originally did not carry passports. NASA (and probably the Department of State) considered their space suits to be the equivalent should they land in not-so-friendly territory. However, a science fiction writer (Ben Bova, I think) wrote a novel about just this scenario and since then American astronauts carry their passports with them on space flights.

    Of course, this could be faulty memory or even an urban legend. I really don't know.
  • When they land, do they have to go through customs physically? Does anyone check their luggage? Do the DEA agents have dogs sniff the space suits to make sure they haven't smuggled back any moon crack? And does NASA pick up the duty charges?
  • by DeadVulcan (182139) <{moc.xobop} {ta} {nacluv.daed}> on Monday March 19, 2001 @01:16PM (#353312)

    I'm reminded of the movie, 2010, when the deteriorating political situation required the American astronauts to be "recalled" to Discovery. It's just so eerily believable...

    How territorial we humans are.

    --

  • Tongue in cheek... hmmm... Travelling frequently I have to say that entering the US is the a awkward feeling, just slightly short of eastern block countries when communism was alive and kicking. A German author (Paul Waczlawik) wrote about Customs and INS: "You will be treated like a common criminal. Don't take it personally though, they treat everybody that way." The Apollo crew was really lucky... Walter
  • Just another way to profile people...
    -----
  • or things...
    -----
  • Which is of course why *we* don't have a lot of nasty diseases that are floating around the rest of the world

    I love my island fortress (now if only I was actually living there ...)

  • Is this because the Apollo astronauts come in on a ship after being pickup at sea? Would the same happen if the space shuttle landed future moon rocks or anything else on US soil. Would you need to fill out paper work on space junk? Is this a way of saying to the rest of the world that the US does not consider the moon to be part of the US? Dose any one have any insight on this.
  • I think they maxed out their exemptions on this trip.

    Judging the appraised value of moon rocks, the customs duty on said articles'd be enough to put the Armstrong family in hock to Uncle Sam for a few generations...
  • It may have been a way to get the autographs of the crew for the customs folks...
  • I'm amused by the bottom left of the image... where the form asks for any information regarding "Conditions on board which may lead to the spread of disease" and it's marked as "To be determined"...
  • But it does raise the issue of using strong crypto when sending e-mail to Mars. (Obligatory link to older /. story on interplanetary networks currently missing).

    Is it considered 'exporting' to take a strong crypto package to the Moon? To the International Space Station?

  • Actually, I thought that the rules made it so that you were allowed to export certain, specifically approved products overseas. AFAIK, PGP is the only exportable product still. Yes/no?
  • In the "Any other condition on board which may lead to the spread of disease" field, they put TBD!!! They convieniently don't say anything about the killer micro-organisms that they brought back. Oh wait that was a Michael Crichton story.
  • my belief is that the us never made it to the moon. it was a billion dollar conspiracy created to create an illusion that would leave everyone believing that the us goverment has much more powerful technology then the former soviet union. unbelievable? well believe it!
  • by Rudeboy777 (214749) on Monday March 19, 2001 @12:50PM (#353325)
    That sound you hear is thousnads of Scientologists gasping at the thought of Xenu getting held up at the border upon his triumphant return.
  • checked them too. I mean come on, there travelling with a guy who's middle name is Buzz. Moon dust........ sure it's moon dust.
  • And don't be forgettink evil space fungus...
  • by canning (228134) on Monday March 19, 2001 @01:02PM (#353331) Homepage
    checked them too. I mean come on, there travelling with a guy who's middle name is Buzz. Moon dust........ sure it's moon dust.

  • by Seinfeld (243496) on Monday March 19, 2001 @01:49PM (#353334)
    10. Hey, some guy on the moon paid me 50 bucks to bring this back 9. This isn't my suitcase! 8. I brought this moon rock with me on the trip out 7. You can have half if you let me go 6. No, no, this is a piece of the Berlin Wall 5. Hey, aren't you going to check Armstrong? 4. Lunar customs didn't have a problem with it! 3. This is a paperweight - didn't you see the pictures of all that stuff flying around the capsule? 2. What's the tax on a rock anyway? 1. This is just moon cheese - take a bite!
    -----------
  • A news article by Independent News confirms that this document is real.
    Here [moonmovie.com] is another real bunch of documentaion on that particular mission. I also have heard theories that Buzz Aldrin was the second gunman on the grassy knoll.

  • How do you know that's the official name?

    Boy, this has to take some kind of award for existentialist flame-bait. I know Luna is the name of the Earth's only natural satellite the same way I know Mars is the name of the next planet out, Charon is the name of Pluto's only moon, and Sol is the place-name of the particular somewhat dim and average star that happens to be at the center of this particular solar system. That's what it's called.

    Have you ever heard anyone look up at the sky and say "Hey, there's Moon?" Of course not, because "moon" isn't a name, even when it's capitalized. It's a description. Yeah, we use it, just like we use the contraction "America" to refer to what is really the United States of America, not the American continent.

    True, in normal talk we know which particular moon the Moon is, but this was a customs declaration form. Think like a bureaucrat, man! You're supposed to get details like this right or there isn't any point.

  • But wait there's more:

    Where do I get a beowulf cluster of moon rocks?

    Man on the moon, naked and petrified!

    Hot moon rocks down my pants

    All your moon rocks are belong to us!!

    Moon rocks suck, just like Open Source software.

    Moon rocks suck, just like Microsoft.

    Wait, I have a patent on moon rocks, they better pay up!

    The Moon Rock Association of America is trying to limit our fair use of Moon Rocks!

    Peer to peer is a much better model for distributing moon dust.

  • Article II of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 expressly forbids property clains to outer space, including the moon. In any case, the russians were first to get a flag there -- they crashed several of the Luna probes onto the moon, first in '59 and later in '65. At least one of these was filled with lots of little Soviet flags which were intended to spill out on impact. The Soviets also made several soft landings, and were first to land a lunar rover. The Luna Mission Profile [nauts.com] is available online.

    Tony.
  • by macsuibhne (307779) on Monday March 19, 2001 @01:08PM (#353349)
    If you live in the Bay Area, a contemporary copy of the customs declaration (probably required in triplicate) can be seen on USS Hornet, the aircraft carrier (now a floating museum in Alameda) that hauled many of the Apollo capsules out of the Pacific and took them to Hawaii. It was clearly done as a tongue in cheek thing by US Customs, and possibly to cop a little reflected glamour from the moon shot. Incidentally, there was a very real concern about the astronauts bringing "moon bugs" back with them. The capsule and astronauts were soused with disinfectant foam, and subsequently put in quarantine for weeks.
  • Last time I told the customs I was bringing 'rocks' they weren't happy with me at all...

  • The real irony here is that "these will be the typical slashdot replies" posts is now one of the major categories in same. It was fun the first three times somebody wrote such a post.

    --

  • But fire a missile into the U.S. and I bet they'd just keep you buried in paperwork.

    --

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