Crushed-Out Man Stole Sally Ride's Flight Suit

By Joseph Calamia | June 11, 2010 11:47 am

sallyrideWalking by a replica of Sally Ride’s flight suit during visits to NASA and Space Center Houston, Calvin Dale Smith would snicker. Later, he told his wife that he knew the location of Ride’s original flight suit. He didn’t tell her that it was in their home, in a duct tape-wrapped suitcase.

As Wired reports, Smith allegedly got his hands on Ride’s flight suit while working as a contractor at Boeing’s Flight Group Processing Office, which maintains the suits. During his time there, he also stole a NASA Omega watch and several machined spaceship parts (including a safety tether and airlock parts).

According to court documents (pdf), Smith’s wife turned in her husband, who had previously served jail time for domestic violence, after being asked to send her estranged husband his belongings. He wanted a suitcase, “the suitcase.”

Though the first American woman in space’s blue jumpsuit is estimated to fetch $2,500 if sold to the public and $3,500 at an open auction, Smith apparently, according to a local KHOU TV news report, wanted the suit because of a “crush” on the astronaut. A rejection letter found with the suit also shows an unsuccessful attempt to sell it to the Smithsonian.

According to Wired, Smith pleaded not guilty on May 27. He has a July 12 court date and, if convicted, could serve 10 years in jail. Closing KHOU TV’s report: “If convicted, Smith’s obsession with Sally is taking him on a Ride, to Federal Prison.”

Related content:
Science Not Fiction: Trend Watch: Scientists as Fashion Accessories
Bad Astronomy:  Astronauts in the bag
Cosmic Variance: Women in Space — We. . . um . . . salute you

Image: NASA

MORE ABOUT: astronauts, NASA, Sally Ride

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