Nasa is investigating whether the Apollo 13 commander, James Lovell, has the right to sell a checklist from the flight that includes his handwritten calculations crucial in guiding the damaged spacecraft back to Earth.
The 70-page document was sold by Heritage Auctions in November for more than $388,000, about 15 times its initial list price. The checklist gained fame as part of a key scene in the 1995 film Apollo 13, in which actor Tom Hanks played Cdr Lovell.
After the sale, Nasa contacted Cdr Lovell and Heritage to ask whether Cdr Lovell had title to the checklist. Greg Rohan, president of Dallas-based Heritage, said Cdr Lovell provided a signed affidavit that he had clear title, but said the sale has been suspended pending the outcome of the inquiry.
The Apollo 13 Moon mission was aborted about 200,000 miles from Earth when an oxygen tank exploded on 13 April 1970.
In an email to Heritage, Nasa's deputy chief counsel, Donna M Shafer, said there appeared to be "nothing to indicate" that the agency had ever transferred ownership of the checklist to Cdr Lovell.