Sunday, 24 March, 2019

Woman Sues NASA For Possession of Moon Dust Gifted by Neil Armstrong

The young crescent moon over Halifax in May. Thanks to Michael Boschat for always looking up and sharing The young crescent moon over Halifax in May. Thanks to Michael Boschat for always looking up and sharing!- Contributed
Sandra Phillips | 15 June, 2018, 22:32

"Astronaut Neil Armstrong gifted the vial of lunar dust at issue to Laura Ann Murray, now Laura Murray Cicco, when she was a child, and she is the rightful and legal owner of the vial and its contents", the suit states.

She is seemingly concerned that the government might attempt to come after her-NASA has previously taken the legal position that "private persons can not own lunar material", and has criminally investigated people claiming to sell such lunar material or otherwise tried to seize such artifacts. According to her, she only came across the vial five years ago as she was going through her late parents' possessions. It was the 1970s, and Cicco - then Laura Murray - had a connection to the famed space traveler via her father, a US Army and FAA pilot who was friends with Armstrong. Armstrong reportedly gave the vial to Cicco in the '70s, which included a handwritten note on the back of one of her father's business cards.

Despite the varied findings, the expert wrote in his report that "it would be hard to rule out lunar origin" and that it's possible that some dust from Earth "mingled with this likely lunar sample".

"There is no law against private persons owning lunar material", the lawyer wrote. "Lunar samples are the property of the United States Government", the handbook states, "and it is NASA's policy that lunar sample materials will be used only for authorized purposes".

When Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface, he said: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

"Since there is a court case involving this, it would be inappropriate for NASA to comment", Kelly Humphries, a NASA spokesman, emailed Ars.

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"There is no law against private persons owning lunar material".

According to reports, Cicco's vial of dust was analysed by scientists who said that it was "likely" to be a sample of lunar dust. "It is not illegal to own or possess".

The lawsuit claims that test results have authenticated Ms Cicco's vial, although some experts still have questions. In other words, it is a preemptive attempt from her side to prevent NASA officials from repeating such action.

But three armed federal agents greeted the couple and took them to the parking lot for a two-hour questioning, according to court records. The lawsuit claims that the alleged moon dust may have come from a lunar regolith.

Davis' late husband, who was an engineer on Apollo 11 -the spacecraft that took Armstrong to space, gave her the item. Her attorney said it's been kept for safekeeping.

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