Woman sues NASA to keep possession of moon dust


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A Tennessee woman is proactively suing NASA in order to guarantee the agency will not try to steal a vial of moon dust that Neil Armstrong gave to her in the early 1970s.

Murray Cicco received the small glass vial full of gray moon dust in the early 1970s. The vial came with a note: “To Laura Ann Murray — Best of luck — Neil Armstron Apollo 11.” …Armstrong’s note and signature have been verified and testing has confirmed the contents in the vial he gifted her do include dust from the moon.

Decades after receiving the glass vial of moon dust, Murray Cicco is moving forward with her federal court case in Wichita, even though she lives in Tennessee. The reason for filing the case in Kansas goes back to a previous case in 2016 where a U.S. District Court judge in Wichita ruled in favor of a collector who bought a bag containing moon dust that was mistakenly placed in an online government auction. In that case, the bag was then sold at auction last year for $1.8 million.

While NASA hasn’t demanded Murray Cicco give up the vial of moon dust, Murray Cicco’s attorney has requested a jury trial in Wichita to stay ahead. “There is no law against private persons owning lunar material. Lunar material is not contraband. It is not illegal to own or possess,” the court document detailing the case says. “Therefore, she requests judgment declaring her the rightful and legal owner of the vial and its contents, and vesting title in her name.”

This is a very wise move on her part. NASA has for years made it clear that it thinks it owns all moon material brought back by the Apollo missions, and has had the arrogant policy of demanding the return of any moon dust or rocks that it discovered was in the possession of any private citizen, no matter how small, or how well documented the ownership. This court case acts to block such actions, before NASA can even think of them.

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5 comments

  • Localfluff

    The only Soviet Mars mission that worked perfectly arrived during a global dust storm. They had to land on arrival. The lander confirmed a successful soft landing and then died a few seconds later, probably because of the dust. The orbiter operated for several days or weeks, but could never resolve anything of Mars’ surface. It just imaged a featureless orange ball of dust. Like Voyager flying by Titan. That was plain bad luck. When everything works, you still need some luck.

  • Localfluff

    Only Olympus Mons was tall enough to tower above the dust storm.

  • Jwing

    Alan Bean had moon dust in his paintings…I guess all those patrons will have to relinquish their art to NASA.

  • ted

    Don’t put it past some NASA bureaucrat to order the NASA swat team to track it down and confiscate it.
    http://www.policestateusa.com/2013/why-does-nasa-need-a-swat-team-to-steal-moon-dust-from-retirees/

  • wodun

    Perhaps this article would be a good thing for Dr Space to bring up with his next space lawyer guest in relation to private property rights. Would this case help people seeking private property rights off the Earth?

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