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Ex-NASA Contractor Admits Stealing Flight Suit of First Female in Space

nasaBy Allan Lengel

A former contract employee at NASA, who was responsible for the maintenance of astronaut flight suits, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Houston to stealing the NASA flight suit of the first female American astronaut in space and other property, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Calvin Dale Smith, 56, of Houston, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas to stealing NASA property including a flight suit worth more than $1000 and various specialized machined parts valued at approximately $7,372, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

A criminal complaint said the flight suit bore the name patch Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut in space.

The stolen property was recovered at Smith’s Houston home on May 5, 2009, by agents of NASA’s Office of Inspector General, which executed a search warrant, authorities said.

The agents found the goods in a suitcase in a room that had an alarm. Authorities say the investigation began after Smith’s estranged wife reported the matter to the FBI. Sentencing was set for Nov. 2.