Astronauts have exciting and often intriguing careers; it's no wonder regular folks are so interested in the doings of these space travelers. In that vein, meet Thad Roberts – the once-aspiring astronaut who blew his chance to go to the space by stealing some quick-and-dirty moments on the Moon. Well, on moon rocks, anyway.
In 2002, 25-year-old NASA intern Thad Roberts pulled off a moon rock heist from a NASA safe, took the rocks to bed with him – literally – and was then captured trying to sell some of the precious material to FBI agents in Florida. The best part: he did it all for love.
Astronauts are like all of us – just with higher IQs. They get into shenanigans and can be full of spunky personality as Pete Conrad, the Bart Simpson of NASA, and Lisa Nowak, the astronaut who drove across the country wearing a diaper, demonstrate. However, the intern who stole the Moon might just take the cake when it comes to astronauts behaving badly.
During NASA's Lunar Missions, Astronauts Collected 842 Pounds Of Moon Rock
The NASA space program sent six missions to the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the last of which took place with Apollo 17 in 1972. During each landing, astronauts and scientists took samples of moon rock to study and use for educational purposes. All told, NASA collected over 842 pounds of dust, sand, and rock from the Moon, which were stored in the Johnson Space Center in Florida. Some of the rocks made their way to the lab of Dr. Everett Gibson, a senior planetary scientist, and while these samples had been exposed to the atmosphere on Earth, they were still extremely valuable.
Thad Roberts, Moon Rock Thief In The Making, Was Disowned By His Mormon Family For Getting Busy With His Girlfriend
Thad Roberts was born in 1977 in Utah to a devout Mormon family. Before going on his mission, Roberts slept with his girlfriend, Sonya, an act that plagued him with regret. He confessed the act to some of his fellow young Mormons and decided to tell the mission president what he had done.
Instead of receiving forgiveness, like he thought he would, he was thrown off of his mission and branded a sinner in the Mormon faith. He was sent home where his father gave him two months to find somewhere else to live. During that time, he had to sleep in the basement and wasn't allowed to interact with any family members.
Roberts Married The Girlfriend He Got Disowned With, Went To College, And Got Interested In Rocks
After his two months in the basement were up, Thad and Sonya got married. Thad went to the University of Utah where he worked in the university museum for the geology department, and he loved working with the rock samples and fossils there. After his time at the University of Utah, Roberts found himself applying to work for NASA.
Roberts Joined NASA's Co-Op Program In 2001 And Became Known As A "Rule-Breaker"
Roberts became an intern at NASA after joining the organization's Pathways Program as a "co-op," which is basically NASA-speak for intern. As an intern, Roberts, a trained physicist, worked as an astrophysicist and a geophysicist before participating in underwater simulations with future astronauts. Roberts developed a reputation as a "risk taker and rule-breaker" by sneaking into the Space Shuttle Simulator, among other antics.